Sunday, 1 September 2013

Starting a New Novel

I’m excited to be starting a new project, but with several ideas banging about in my brain, choosing ‘the one’ to run with has been difficult. I’ve wanted to do something with the 3,000 words I wrote on an Arvon course. It centres around my grandfather and the East London docks, and works as a character study, but I haven’t yet got the whole story worked out. There’s also the first chapter of a children’s novel about a half-goblin who’s a detective, which my nephew keeps asking if I’ve continued. If that’s caught his imagination it should be worth taking further, but at the moment I’m rather taken with the Iron Age, so have plumped with that for my new novel, in the hope that the revised primary history curriculum will need some fresh children’s books.
An Iron Age torc will feature in the plot.

Even though I studied history, I know little about the Iron Age, so getting stuck into a completely new era is great fun and odd bits of information I come across spark off new ideas for the plot, though the plotting itself remains the slow bit for me. Once I’m into the writing things seems to flow quickly, but I agonise for ages over the story line, regularly waking in the middle of the night with ideas. I’m considering trying my hand at NaNoWriMo again this year, which gives me just one month to sort myself out with the story.

It’s all early days, but it is proving a lot harder than starting a sequel, which is what I did last year for NaNo. Just knowing all my characters back then, as well as the world they inhabited, made the task so much easier, so one thing I have to do early on in the whole process is dive into some writing to get to know my main character. It might be something I never even use, but unless I get a protagonist down on paper and start living with them I can’t seem to sort out ‘stuff’ for them to do.

I know about Medieval villages. How different will an Iron Age village be?

I’m also drawn to making a map of where the story is to take place. I did this for my Tudor novels and, as well as helping me with the world as it was in 1594, it helped me match my protagonist’s emotional journey to his physical one. For this, as yet untitled, Iron Age story, part of which will be set in the present, I need something which also includes a bit of geological detail. I’m on the hunt for chalk and I daresay I’ll be using a fair few post it notes on the map as I build up my world, past and present.

One thing is for sure, there’s masses to do and I can’t afford to keep putting it off until tomorrow. I stopped writing after NaNo last year, as starting a new teaching job took up all of my time, and it has been proving harder than I thought it would be to get back into the swing of it. At the moment I have much less on my plate, so there are no excuses, I’ve just got to get my head down and crack on. Now, where’s that map to print out?

In this book I plan to spend time somewhere on the Icknield way.

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