Writing: How to decide on the story I want to tell
In the middle of promoting my recent book – Rebuilding Alexandra Small – (99p for the month of July at most eBook sellers) I’m also writing something new. It’s the weird way of the writing world that you truly want to put all your energy into a new project, but need to set a decent chunk of time aside to sell something that’s over a year old in your head.
I’m midway through the third draft of what I hope to share either later this year or early next and the story continues to twist and turn and bend into all kinds of new shapes. I was sure I knew what I wanted to say with this next novel, but it turns out I want to say more thing. With rebuilding Alexandra Small, I wanted to address recovery and making amends – and what happens when someone you forgot about sticks their head up and says ‘what about me?’ The central storyline deals with paying the price for not saying sorry.
For my (as yet untitled) work in progress, I have three key storylines. An older couple, a younger couple. A gay couple, a straight couple. Something nefarious involving the church. And it’s all set on a Christmas cruise to the Bahamas. I started with the focus firmly on one of the key players, allowing others occasional goes at speaking to the reader. Then I switched in the second draft, dividing time equally. It’s just dawned on me in the third draft, that my previous favourite character is actually quite safe. She takes few risks. She could even be called dull (but only by a close friend). And I wanted to explore why. It’s helped me focus the theme for the new book. One of the other key characters suffers from the weight of meeting expectations and feeling inadequate. Another struggles to make good for an impulsive argument that split his family. I thought I might have many things to say with this one, but now I see I have just one: being true to yourself comes with a cost, but it’s worth paying.
Pitching your writing
As a writer, it’s vital to distil your story into one or two lines. This lets you stay focussed on the end-game and kill any non-helpful darlings in the edit – taking out each and every fabulously written chunk of prose that fails to advance the story. Having this essence bottled makes it so much easier to talk about your book when you reach the marketing or pitch stage. It’s a way to be sure of meeting the expectations of your genre, your readers and that demanding inner critic – the one who keeps bleating on about imposter syndrome. For me, everything starts with one (or more) character(s). You might work differently.
I’ll aim to share some pages with my mailing list subscribers in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the sun. If you’ve never tried placing a bottle of frozen water in front of a table fan, do it now. You’ll thank me.
And if you can spare a pound/buck/yoyo, please buy an e-book this month. It’ll help make paying my mortgage that little bit easier.