Thursday, 18 July 2013

Danger Ahead

After some considerably faffing about I am beginning work on Lonely Emily again, and hoping to finish it (well, first draft, anyway) within the next four weeks. But, there's a problem.
I've always been of the opinion that, as much as possible, my readers should basically have no idea what happens next. You can tackle this in a number of way - but over plotting isn't one of them. If you sit down and carefully plot out a storyline it will, by the nature of the process, be a logical plot - a progression from one action to another leading to an inevitable final conclusion; predictable, in other words. But life isn't like this, and books shouldn't be either. If an agent/publisher wants a synopsis, they'll have to wait until I finish writing the book - because, in a very real way, books plot themselves - I just take notes.
One key thing I do when writing is to create little pools of quicksand in the narrative. So, just when the plot is rattling along nicely I drop in something completely out of the blue that throws everything off track. In Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys this very large patch of quicksand was a character by the name of Trevor Smethurst - a completely unpredictable super-intelligent T-Rex, who, suddenly, and entirely unexpectedly (even for me) joined forces with Maxwell's nemesis, Titus Mamble.
What will come of this relationship? I've really got no idea, but it will be interesting finding out!
I've done something similar with Lonely Emily - the last few lines in the narrative I wrote before moving on to something new (and a about a third of the way through the book) follow:
‘What do these words mean, Frank?’ Mrs Smythe’s words stirred Sarah out of her thoughts, and she found they were at the gate to her home, Mrs Smythe’s strong fingers pointed at the undecipherable scrawl beneath the carving of the bear.  ‘I know they’re not Russian.’

‘No, not Russian, no no,’ Mr Frank pushed open the gate.  ‘Come through please, is very late, yes?’

‘But what—‘

‘Is very old, Mrs Smythe, very, very old words, yes?’  The old man stared at her, his face unreadable in the darkness, his eyes glittered as if they themselves were filled with their own stars.  ‘Miss Sarah she is tired, and her cat it must be fed, yes?’

'But of course,’ Mrs Smythe smiled apologetically at Sarah.  ‘Come along, Sarah, I have a nice spare room—‘

'What do the words mean, Mr Frank?’ Sarah asked suddenly.

 ‘I do not think this is the time, Miss Sarah, I think, yes, quite soon yes, that soon it will snowing be—‘

 ‘What do they mean?’ Sarah insisted.

The old man sighed, and turning placed his fingers on the stick letters that looked like no letters that Sarah had ever seen.

‘Theses words they have been here for time before time,’ Mr Frank replied, his voice low, seeming to move from the darkness like it was the shadows themselves speaking.  ‘Have always been here at Bear House, your see?’  Mr Frank sighed.

‘These words,’ he said ‘They say ‘Sarah Gray’.’

Quicksand. This one patch is very deep - and (without giving too much away) I only have a very vague idea why Sarah's name is on a gate that is so old it is virtually petrified, in a language older than Russian ... and there is the adventure and the thrill of writing. There's danger ahead, and I can't wait to wade through the quicksand...

...and hopefully come out of the other side!