Thursday, October 14, 2021

Joined up writing...by Sheila Claydon




In my last post I wrote about finding a story, and about the trigger that prompts my imagination sufficiently to write a book. It can be a picture in a magazine, or a holiday, or an article in a local newspaper for example. I also talked about my next book, due out in June 2022 which, while it still doesn't have a title, is the final story in my Mapleby Memories trilogy, and how this is proving more problematic because, whatever the trigger, it has to tie in with the first two books Remembering Rose and Loving Ellen. 


And that is the reason I have a collection of triggers on the back burner. Ideas and pictures that I save until the right story comes along, which in this case is a 600 year old water mill that I chanced upon hidden in woodland. If you have read either of the Mapleby books you will know that they are a mixture of romance, fantasy and history, so a very old mill seemed just the ticket. And when I started this was very definitely the case. The first couple of chapters came easily, as did the main characters, and I was very quickly able to introduce them to some of the characters from the earlier books. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I was stuck.

I had the back story, the characters and the geography, and I knew how I wanted the story to develop, but I couldn't make it work. Because it was summer and because there was plenty of time before publication I stepped back for several weeks, hoping all would become clear when I started writing again. It didn't! So what to do?

Slowly a possible solution dawned. Instead of writing as I usually do, from the beginning of the book to the end, I was going to have to separate the plot into character led sections, write each one separately, and wait for the right time to join them up.

So right now I have Sophie, the main protagonist, in 3 separate places in 3 different time zones, interacting with 3 different groups of people, and somehow I have to make sense of all of it. Confusing? Maybe, but it has unblocked the writing process. The 'Sophie in the immediate past' section I'm working on at the moment is flowing easily, and because I am typing it up in red I won't confuse it with the 'Sophie in the here and now' section which is in black, or the 'Sophie in the distant past' section which is in blue.

Also I think the joining up process will be interesting and as I always like a challenge, satisfying, when it eventually works. I do think the book will require a bit more editing than usual though and I still have to find a way to link Sophie to the long ago people who worked in the mill. I can 'see' them and 'hear' them but to go back 600 years requires an enormous leap in culture, geography and social mores. Fortunately I have found some really interesting history about old water mills. For example, in medieval times in the UK many water mills belonged to the Lord of the Manor who hired a miller to operate it for him, and he also insisted that all his tenants used his mill and no other! I just know I'm going to enjoy finding out more, so watch this space.



1 comment:

  1. Every writer uses different techniques. For me, if I have a lot of time to write the book, I like to work on the first four or five chapters for months, developing the story in my head, fleshing out the characters. Then, when I know my characters, plot, and setting, I can write the rest of the story with all the rich details and connections. I also like to finish the book early, so I have time to polish it. Thanks for sharing your process.

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