I guess each writer has their own way of working, and what seems the most obvious and straightforward and sensible thing to do for one person, seems eccentric to say the least for someone else. Some people like lists and flow charts, tick sheets and filing cards and have planned the whole thing meticulously before they even start writing the introduction, others just plunge in completely randomly and make it up as they go along… I am not exactly a plunge right in at random person – but neither am I a plans and lists person.
I guess I do a lot of planning before I actually start (most of the time – but there have been stories which I just randomly started writing!) but my planning is mental, I spend car journeys, or waiting in queues, or pondering as I drift into sleep, I think of characters, and situations, and puzzles and coincidences, and weird things which happen to ordinary people. During this period I might do a little bit of prospective writing, maybe a few pages, maybe a few chapters; usually these embryonic starts are abandoned, sometimes they get rewritten, sometimes they become something else completely, sometimes they are included almost as they were first written.
As my writing proceeds I do occasionally do jottings on paper – when I wrote my first Radwinter novel I had huge sheets of paper with family trees, because it was so complicated – for me, not the reader, I hope! I had tried to follow the pattern of a lot of families, with recurring names – names from parents, grandparents, ancestral and maternal surnames included, but I had to make sure it was clear in my mind, in order for it to be clear to the reader!
In the sequel to ‘Radwinter’, ‘Magick’ – the maternal line of the family, I also had mighty sheets of paper with family trees, because at one point a family changed its name, there were several branches of the family which interwove, there were all sorts of complications – for me – once again, I hoped the story was clear and uncomplicated for people reading it!
In the new, as yet untitled Radwinter novel, which I’m getting into, there is a genealogical investigation, but it is quite linear and so not too complicated (although there are mysteries, of course!) but I have another task which needs to be sorted out before I get full-on with the actual writing. You see, in my previous book in the series, ‘Earthquake’, there were as usual several story lines – but a couple too many! I had done a lot of writing, so, with the wonders of modern technology, I was able to cut out the extra storylines, and save them for another time.
This is what Earthquake was originally:
- a family tree/history/genealogy
- the mystery of a school girl who died in 1931, and her twelve classmates
- an earthquake (of course, since it’s the title of the novel!)
- a new arrival in the Radwinter family, a new arrival who has an unhappy history
- two of the four Radwinter brothers struggling in different ways with what I guess you could call ‘personal issues’
- a young woman with amnesia
- a haunted hotel
- the everyday story of Thomas Radwinter and his family
- an old cake-making gentleman
… so you can see it would have been far too long and far too complicated! The main stories I cut out were the family history story, and the girl who had lost her memory. I had written nearly forty thousand words on these, so you can see it would have been a very long book indeed.
Now, in my new Radwinter story, there is plenty of room, to use these story-lines, much slimmed down I have to say, but there are also other new ‘adventures’ too!
- one, if not two stalkers (of different characters)
- obsessive jealousy/possessiveness
Because most of my stories are set in the small imaginary seaside town of Easthope, it has struck me that characters from different novels must ‘know’ each other. The manager of the bookshop (owned by a character from ‘The Double Act’) in the town, must know or at least know of, the most famous local writer who was a main character in my 2016 novel, ‘Lucky Portbraddon’… and somehow in this new novel, characters from ‘Night Vision’ have started to appear! I don’t know how they sneaked in!!
So… back to my weaving!
Here are links to my books:
The Double Act
…and all my stories: