Well hello there! I hope you’re well. And may I say a Happy New Year? It’s still just about January…
I’ve been smashing my great big flabby fingers against my keyboard for the past few weeks, getting to grips with the first draft of my new book. It’s the threequel to The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life (book 2 in the series – The Chicken Nugget Ambush – will be out in the spring). At the moment it’s called Woolly Jumpers and Other Deadly Weapons but this will probably change before too long.
It’s a weird sensation, starting a new book – you’re stepping out into the unknown without a safety net. It’s a bit like base jumping. But without the cliff. Or the danger. Or the actual jumping. Come to think of it, it’s nothing like base jumping at all.
It’s more like doing a jigsaw, except you haven’t got the picture yet and you’re having to cut the pieces up yourself as you go along. I think this is probably why a lot of people give up on writing quite early on when they give it a try. You’ve got an idea (woolly jumper causes mayhem), and a few scenes, but no story yet. Your initial excitement can sort of fizzle out when you get bogged down in it.
I hope I’ve learned not to panic about this now. My usual method is to plough on with it, ignoring all the flaws in the story until they just become too overpowering and I’ve got to stop (which is about where I’m up to now). Hopefully by this stage I’ve got a few decent scenes and some good jokes in amongst the rubbish. A bit like when you find an old wine gum under your car seat.
Then I go back, pull it all to pieces then try to fit it all together again. For me, the main thing is to think about the characters and how their individual story-lines can fit together, and how they fit to the central idea. Sometimes this stage is easier than others – a sudden understanding of how that person puking in that shoe could link to this person accidentally firing that hamster into orbit, which is obviously linked to the reason why this other person was playing the banjo in his grandad’s underpants in the first place etc.
Or not. But you get the picture…
More often than not though, this is the part of the writing process that gives me the biggest headache. You find yourself consumed by worry about why this character might be allergic to his own hair, or what on Earth that could have to do with his sister’s Vimto habit. But, eventually, by changing some things, tinkering with others and deleting what doesn’t work, you get there. You hope, anyway.
Once you’ve got those links, it should become easier to clean up the story and get it moving in the right direction.
Now, all I’ve got to do is find them. I’ll let you know how I get on…
All the best.