While I’m waiting for a worthwhile idea for my next crime novel, I’m using my time to write short stories for Women’s Magazines.
Again ideas don’t present themselves on a plate for me to choose.
Recently I used my garden to write ‘Having Faith’. I wrote about wanting to be able grow and sell my vegetables from my drive.
Another idea was prompted when I showed my photograph album to my daughter. There was a photo of my family walking on the local beach, where we had many memories. It struck me I could write and reflect on these memories with the idea that I could relate them to my grandchildren when they eventually arrived.
Lately, I was waiting for inspiration and my eyes launched on a water-colour painting I had pinned up on the wall beside my corkboard along with two others. It was the picture of a stile that one climbs over to get to the other side of a field. A memory of one similar I used to climb to get onto a hill, came to me and the beginning of a story presented itself. I named it ‘The Promise of Tomorrow’.
When I came home the other day from my painting activity, I pinned up my new painting – an acrylic painting of a rocky shore, cloudy sky and surf breaking over the rocks. Almost immediately I had the beginning of a story. The title might be ‘Troubled Times’. I’m still considering the outline and the ending. I guess you have to use whatever means to get those creative juices flowing.
I’m still pondering over my next novel. It’s got to feel right because once you start, it’s a long journey.
No-one knows where the next idea will come from. You just have to keep an open mind and use your eyes and ears and your sixth sense.
The danger is that you might think that by doing so, you are giving too much away. But this is rubbish because if you are writing fiction the main character need not be you, it is someone else who is telling the story and it is from her point of view.
For example –
I nearly freaked out when I heard the two women say my name in hushed tones. My ears twitched, I had to hear what they were saying about me and more importantly that it was me and not someone else by the same name. They sat two seats in front of me in the bus and obviously didn’t know I was there.
“It’s true,” said the woman with black rinsed hair. “She’s been seeing the butcher over the past year and they’ve got awfully friendly. My cousin wouldn’t lie to me.”
The other woman cocked her ear and didn’t say much except, “You don’t say or I can hardly believe it.”
I seethed. I wanted to go down and punch them for mentioning my name on public transport and ask them if they realised they were broadcasting someone’s secret life, but what good would that do? It would only bring attention to myself and give them more to talk about.
When I got home, I threw off my coat and let my handbag find a place on the floor. How could she have told her cousin about me? I thought we had a beautiful friendship and I treasured it up until now. A real friend wouldn’t have divulged my secret love affair. I was crushed, broken and I sobbed my heart out. Afterwards the world seemed an ugly place, even the roses I had brought in from the garden had lost their glow. I decided I wouldn’t confront my so-called friend and accuse her of what she had done, but the closeness we had shared was lost and I doubted if I could trust anyone again.
Please note –
That the reader will have empathy for the character towards the end of the passage more so than if you had written it in 3rd person.
I have always thought that one should read as much as one writes. And although I notice the different ways writers handle their work, I don’t always put it into practice. I feel I should because if one is convinced that there is a better way, why not adopt it. It doesn’t mean that you are copying. The words are still your own, but you are learning construction and if that makes your novel more readable, why not?
My detective normally goes into his office, hangs up his jacket and gives orders to his sergeant before leaving for a coffee in the canteen. (A reader can imagine the set-up, but it’s not exactly painting a picture with words.)
Recently I came across Denise Mina’s novel ‘The End of the Wasp Season’ and I’ve been blown away by her writing. For example – When the detective enters her office, she’s sweating, tired and out of spirits. We know by the dumping of her bag on the floor. She looks at her in-tray and takes a deep breath. She places a hand on either side of the desk like a pianist centring herself before a recital. She doesn’t want this case. She’s losing compassion for the victim and she doesn’t want to meet the killer.
It goes on to paint the picture of her sterile office and compares it with her friend’s chaotic, garish kitchen.
What the words are doing is giving us an insight to the detective’s character.
I need to sit down and examine parts of my own writing and put in the bits that are missing.
(Please note – Amazon ebooks -pen-name Sarah Wallace (six novels self-published).
I am depressed because I’m having difficulty finding new ways to wrap up my novel. I’m putting off lifting my pen because the ideas won’t come. I used to write 3000 to 4000 words per week. Now I can just manage 1000 words. Sometimes I’m amazed that I can still write and add something.
When you have written 52,000 words and you’re aiming for another 18,000, it doesn’t seem so many. But it’s tough! The end is where everything is pulled together, facts are drawn together to show reasons why they were in the story and the reader is shown the light.
If I give up, the characters’ pictures would be taken off my corkboard and there would be a space that would not be replenished. Those friends that I have lived with and cared about, would be gone forever. I doubt if I could start again.
As Sarah Wallace, I have written six crime e/books and published them on Amazon and obviously managed to complete. I have a habit of finishing anything I start. I guess this seventh novel is stretching me or is it telling me it’s time for a change.
I can’t not write. I guess I’m not the only person who has reached this point. Wish me luck!
It appears to me that one must start with a truth and then let the imagination take over to be able to write a fictional story.
One starts with a true fact and then the question – What if something else happens and so the story is formed to suit your purposes.
One cannot start a story from a vacuum, an empty sky, a place where nothing is happening or from an empty mind.
If there is nothing that excites you, you have to research something that captures your imagination, even if it is murder, because crime is what you like to read and therefore write.
Nicholas Evans researched ‘the History of Wolf Slaughter in America’ to be able to write his fictional story called ‘The Loop’. Without research of the true facts, this story could not be believed. And that’s what a fictional story has to be.
The same with Jeffrey Deaver’s ‘The Coffin Dancer’ or The Bone Collector’. He wanted his detective to be a quadriplegic. Deaver’s research into quadriplegia was painstaking and he even tried out the equipment himself.
In the end it is an invented story, but there are truths interwoven into the fabric or it wouldn’t be believable.
In my experience, when I have no idea what I’m going to write in the next chapter, I take it on faith that thoughts will come to me when I put pen to paper.
Because it has happened before, I trust that it will happen again. On saying that, I have a setting and perhaps two characters. It is their turn to present me with the next part of the story. And somehow the words flow from my brain through my pen and onto the paper like a magical occurrence. It is not planned and yet there it is – the next chapter.
Recently I read in ‘Finders Keepers’ by Stephen King, the following words –
A good novelist does not lead his characters, he follows them.
A good novelist does not create events, he watches them happen and writes down what he sees.
I find there is truth in these words.
I have had this problem for some time.
I’ve written six novels under the pen-name Sarah Wallace and sell them on Amazon UK Kindle Store. But not until now have I been shown what real depth was.
My characters are what they seem, act how they would in reality, be villains when they want to be, are flawed like humans and good guys apologise for their discrepancies. But they do not have depth of character which would make them more interesting. I have given the problem much thought, but the answer doesn’t appear automatically.
When I read the first fifty pages of ‘Carnival of Shadows’ by R.J. Ellory, I knew I had found the answer.
1.’Back Story’ 2.A Past History. 3.Reasons why he is the person he is now. 4.’Baggage’, which he still carries around in his head.
I hope to remedy my current novel with these thoughts for my characters to make them more interesting. You might want to do the same.