Oh, hello

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I’m feeling a lot happier after posing the question ‘authors who write without a plan’to uncle Google. Seems as if it’s an accepted way of working and even if it wasn’t I don’t think I can work any other way. I’ve tried making chapter plans , thinking ahead – who’ll do what, where, when, but a mind-block always seems to appear suggesting I need to plan other things like car repairs, vet trips, earning a living . . .

It’s an odd way to work; a little scary, like walking a bit too close to a windy cliff edge just to see what’s down there. Often the path meanders into good terrain, fertile and exciting and equally often comes to a halt in front of a huge pile of literary manure from which I have to hastily back-track to find a different lane.

Characters I find equally difficult to pin down. Like the lady above, they often appear, semi-formed and reveal their true identities as I write. I have heard people say that you should work ever last thing out about a character before you introduce them into the story. A great idea except characters change and morph as I write, sometimes slightly, sometimes to almost take over the story, causing me to re-write and re-think – maybe a useful process in itself.

So, my planning: an early morning scramble to get words down, reflecting throughout the day, occasionally with a Eureka moment at some point and some hasty note-making followed by a re-cap early the following morning before the story moves on, slowly, speedily, sideways, backwards and (happily)mostly forwards.

 

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Tangents

I’m very good at these – going off, wandering about, throwing in new ideas, which can be exciting or frustrating depending what I’m trying to achieve, writing wise.

 

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I once saw a film of a writer (can’t remember who) as they were planning a book. The walls of the studio were plastered with a sort of time scale plan – each chapter planned out: what was going to happen to who, where and when.

I don’t seem to be able to do this, and I have tried. I start with characters and a vague idea of what might happen, but then the plot invariably changes and veers off in some other direction, characters leading the way and me stumbling along: “Er, hello . . . wait.”

 

A review of one of my most tangenty stories, where the reader (luckily) enjoyed following my unknown path.

I really enjoyed this and it was hugely compelling, I had absolutely no problem zipping through to the end. The concept is really original, and in the best sense – intriguing! The writing is jaunty, the story feels like it has direction. And this isn’t even hugely important, as you have the rare gift of being able to grab a reader and string them along, you could digress and go on weird tangents and I’d follow you as you clearly know what you’re doing.

 

Major tangent-wise, I’ve just started another short story inspired by a flight into Stanstead recently. Supposed to be 6,000 words, it’s already out of control and heading into book shape, now taking over the novel I was already writing – the second instalment of Hoxton, Smithi.

It’s all good practice . . .

 

My stuff at the moment:

Three stories with ‘Cracked Eye’ online magazine – 158th book out, The couch and Rose, to appear at some point.

Trilogy: ‘Going Out in the Midday Sun, on Amazon as paperback and ebooks.

Hoxton: (not Horton, thank you spell check) to be on Amazon, or to order with fancy hand-made cover, from me, in the New Year.

Smith: Follow-up to Hoxton, to ne published, hopefully by late spring.

Dog: A short/long story/novel, in progress, and length to be decided.

Some illustrations from Hoxton:

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