I’ve recently begun to contribute to the Spike the Cat writing blog’s Ask the Author spot. As I’m asked so many times about planning a novel, I thought it would be an idea to post my latest Spike contribution on my own blog, too:
I’m quite a messy planner, or plotter. I used to simply begin at page one and let the characters take me but, sadly, I found that they weren’t rational or logical and would insist on doing things that simply had no impact on the thrust of the story. They would forget their quests, ignore black moments and miss their turning points. It was a bit like telling a class of eight year olds, ‘Take me from Birmingham to London!’ They might have been to both places but would simply race into the world with bags of enthusiasm but no map-reading ability or logic.
I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that my first book that got published, Uphill All the Way, was the first book that I had a reasonable plan for. Not a chapter-by-chapter plan but a story arc that had a lot in common with one of those dot-to-dot puzzles I used to love as a kid. I knew the plot points. All there was left to do was join those points up.
I’m now in the very first stages of planning a book. I have other projects that I need to complete in the next few weeks but then I’m going on a research trip and beginning the new book in earnest. But it has been bubbling in my mind for weeks and so I know the two central characters and that the heroine is an American woman, Honor, who has come to a British seaside town to find her British mother (so that’s her quest and it will drive the plot). I have answered some questions on her behalf – why her mother left her, how her father felt about it, how far through the book she’ll a) know who and where her mother is b) the reader will know the same information When Honor and her mother will meet. How this impacts upon Martyn, the central male character. These are some pretty major dots in my puzzle, or story arc.
I know a lot about Honor’s background – both known and unknown to her – and I know a lot about Martyn, who is, on the face of it, more of a ‘what you see is what you get’ character. But, of course, the face of things can be quite deceiving – so I think I still have a lot of ‘dots’ to come from his story. His family has a certain dynamic that will affect Honor’s story. And he will affect Honor.
So that’s my plotting process: dotty.
Publication date for All That Mullarkey comes ever nearer . It should be in the shops on 27 May – probably earlier in the airports. But it’s already available for preorder at Amazon.co.uk and thebookdepository.com, amongst others.
On the real thing, the butterflies are silver, which I think is very cool.
Or you can read what the Choc Lit authors think of the heroes of Formula 1 – amongst other things – at www.blog.choc-lit.co.uk
And good news from Smashwords – Starting Over is half price until until Saturday 13th. You must remember to use the code at checkout.
You can purchase through and for your iPhone but must have the free download of Stanza (available from the Apple store) running.
There has been a sudden spike in download sales, perhaps because of an excellent review at Dear Author, which you can read here. They don’t pull punches so to have a mainly positive review and a B rating is great.