I have progressed past the heady first flush of inspiration, and now my characters are talking, ideas are colliding and the shape of the story is revealing itself to me.
There is so much work to be done.
So much to research.
So much to write and rewrite.
So many wrong turns to take.
So many mistakes to be made.
So much wretched self doubt to deal with.
But, oh, I must be mad, because I am so EXCITED by it all.
Bring it on! I say.
I want to tell you about an interesting book I read recently. WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. It is basically a manual on how to write a novel - which usually sends alarm bells, as we know there is no magic formula to novel writing - but it is framed around research in neuroscience and cognitive theory, which makes it a little different to most, and intrigued the logical/scientific part of my brain.
More importantly, the timing was perfect for me, as it reminded me of all the things I need to sort out before starting a new book. It helped me to focus, and not to rush headlong into madly writing without first being clear on what the story is about, and what is driving my characters. I am not an outliner - but I work much better if I know what makes my characters tick and what the story is about in a nutshell. And by thinking deeply about these things, I have come to realise that the story I want to tell deals with some very complex emotions and, with a twelve-year-old protagonist, I need to tread carefully and be very clear in my own mind how she feels about the events that will unfold.
A couple of random thoughts from the book that were useful reminders for me:
- Everything must be there on a needs-to-know basis.
- Plot is not story. Story is how your character is affected by the plot, and how he/she acts and reacts, grows and/or changes.
- Be clear what your character's external goals and inner issues are.