A little update for you all, on this merry, nearly Christmassey-type day.
If you’ve been following my recent exploits on Facebook, you will be aware that, although traditionally a pantser, I have taken the brave (some say foolhardy) step of planning my current book.
Standing back, I can see a case for both planning and pantsing. As long as the damn thing gets written, how you do it is completely up to you. Not everyone works the same way but I wanted to give planning a go – even if it turned out to be a total disaster.
Now, when I say planning, don’t get carried away. Unlike some of my much more organised and efficient friends, I did not produce a highly detailed breakdown of each chapter, but I did invest several weeks researching the idea (especially as there is a historical element), noting down major plot points and writing detailed character profiles.
As a result, when I typed my first sentence at the start of November, I had over fifty postcards, arranged chronologically, with a good idea of what was going to happen in each scene. Thunderbirds were most definitely go.
So is it working? I hear you ask.
Well, I’ve rattled off more words than an over-excited chatterbox at a national Who Can Say The Most Words In A Minute competition. So something must be. But I haven’t exactly stuck rigidly to the plan.
Much like in my pantsing days, I find I don’t really get to know a character properly until I start to write them. Even interviewing them beforehand, whilst it definitely helps me to get a feel for their voice, still isn’t sufficient for me to really know them. So as I was merrily typing away last month, it was only when poor Molly was confronted with each new dilemma, did I realise things needed tweaking. This, in turn, led to some new plot twists and before you could say ‘hey – what about the plan?’ I was skipping off in a random direction.
This means the plan and I are currently not really communicating much, although I have high hopes of playing together again a bit further down the line, as I feel the process of planning has helped enormously – even if the final plan hasn’t been religiously adhered to. It has undoubtedly been beneficial to have a greater sense of where my story is going, and even though I am zigzagging along the path, I am most definitely moving forward.
However, I have now put the new novel on pause because, after a wonderful Christmas meal with the Chelmsford Chapter of the RNA and much bookish chat, I decided that I should head back to Lucy’s Locket and undertake those pesky rewrites. It’s a story I am pleased with and one that’s had positive feedback. Now that I have given it some distance I want to return to it and make it the very best I can.
I brainstormed in the usual locations (the car, the bath and the bed) and gaily threw myself back into editing book three. But more haste, less speed – for in my enthusiasm to crack on I foolishly spent two days editing the wrong version!
After much bad language, a good night’s sleep and some more gin, I have corrected this error – and have also learned a lesson or two about saving too many versions of the same file. But onward and upward, the edits for Lucy’s Locket should be finished by the end of January and ready to send out to agents and publishers.
And lastly, the other news from the Keer-dom is that the frustrating situation of trying to write with only one laptop and crappy internet between six family members has markedly improved. Our in-the-middle-of-no-sodding-where village has finally updated to fibre (we now have a heady 4mbps instead of 0.4mbps – oh, I kid you not) and more than one person can now be online simultaneously. (I may have accidentally discovered iPlayer and All 4 as a result. Massive time waster, but I am hopeful the entire 3 series of The IT Crowd will prove useful research at some point in the future.)
Number one son, after several months of saving, got himself a nifty (albeit second-hand) gaming laptop, and a lovely RNA friend (kiss, kiss) passed on a notebook she no longer uses. Suddenly I do not have to wrestle small children for a keyboard, or work totally unsociable hours. Hoorah!
So as I look back on 2016, I feel satisfied that my writing journey is progressing. I will achieve my dream and it would be great if 2017 was the year I did so.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all xxx