For the past year or so I have been working hard at completely redrafting existing novels after learning more about the craft and realising that I could do so much better. Two of them are now being sent out to agents and publishers, so it’s time to write a completely new story.
Where to begin?
I’ve got ideas for sequels, but have been advised not to write these until (fingers and toes crossed) I get the first one published. Lots of ideas for brand new stories have circulated my brain, but none have excited me. Then, last week, I woke up with a concept that made me reach for a new notepad!
I scribbled down everything that was buzzing in my head – in no particular order, just a random collection of thoughts. At this stage, it was more of a concept than an actual story.
At the moment this is my secret world. I can have fun with it and play around with ideas, letting my mind run off in different directions as I explore the possibilities of various plot lines. Much of this happens in my head before the more promising thoughts make it to my notepad.
During this process, I’m getting to know my main characters. There is a great debate about whether to start with character or plot. Personally, I think that they are interlinked – the plot is driven by the character, as much as the character is formed by the plot.
I’m now starting to get a sense of what my characters look like, but more importantly, what their personalities are like. I find the following questions really helpful:
- What is the characters greatest fear?
- What is his/her motivation?
- What is the ultimate goal?
- How will he/she react in different situations?
- What barriers will my main character have to overcome and how will they do this?
Answers to these questions are vital to the plot.
Once the character has begun to form, I write a biography for future reference. This helps to make sure that the colour of his/her eyes doesn’t change half way through or a sibling turns up when previously the character had been described as an only child! All the answers to the above questions are noted too. It’s usually only in my note pad, nothing grand and official, but really useful as the novel length grows.
The next stage is to peg out the plot …