ACW

ACW

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Where do I start? by Sue Russell

Someone once likened writing a novel to wrestling an octopus into a mayonnaise jar. I didn't have one of those, but I thought an empty olive tin might do just as well.

I'm in the process of concocting a new story, and if we are continuing with this telling image, I have to admit that several tentacles are trying to escape as fast as I am trying to shove them in.

I ask myself why I am finding it more and more difficult to get started the more novels I write. The first one was easy, because of blind and more or less blissful ignorance. I leapt in, blundered around, and got on with it. (A lot of editing was needed later.) The second and third were parts of a trilogy so the principal characters were established and the story told itself. Four and five were a little harder, but the beginnings seemed to present themselves logically. Six was a problem, and I had to get some help from my writing buddy, who is a mile better at structure than I am.

But six, while not yet even available on Amazon, is for me a thing of the past. It's always the way - by the time it gets to the reader it's been through many edits and proof-reads both before and after being submitted for publication. I hope that whoever reads it will find it fresh and adequately gripping, but for me it's done and dusted, and I'm keen to get my new story onto the page. This one's still fresh and gripping, but it's also intractable - just like that slithery eightfold sea creature.

The story is not just in my head; it also exists as many notes and I have done quite a lot of research. I'm certainly more knowledgeable that I was, whether or not this knowledge ever becomes part of the book. I have got to know my protagonist better and better with time. So what's holding me up?

I'm suffering from overwhelm, and I don't quite know how to reduce the mass of thoughts into a manageable list of scenes. If anyone has a similar problem, or indeed has found a solution, I'd be grateful to hear it. Meanwhile, in order to persuade myself that I really must buckle down, I have bought a book.  Will it help?








Sue writes as S.L.Russell and her latest novel 'A Vision of Locusts', published by Instant Apostle, will be released on 20 October.
The others can be found in the usual places as paperbacks and to download to Kindle.


6 comments:

  1. Fab analogy, I love it. I’m sure there are a couple of octopuses around here somewhere

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  2. I know the feeling, Sue, although I'm only just starting to think about my second book. I've just come across a (probably) helpful site for planning characters, plot and outline. They have a 30-day free introductory challenge running now in conjunction with ProWritingAid: https://www.beemgee.com/plot-of-gold/, which I have just started...

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  3. Even worse is when the octopus back-chats as you try and shove him back in the jar. Rude!

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  4. I like to start by imagining a few characters and creating some physical details, personality traits and back stories for them. Then I imagine a setting/situation and put them in it. I get them talking to each other and see what happens. I may never use what I write at this stage and will almost certainly change the characters' details over time but I find this gives me a feel for how my story can develop. I often have an idea for the ending but no idea how to get there. I trust the process (and the characters) to take me there.

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  5. I have yet to experience this problem as I haven't finished my first one yet. But thanks for debunking the myth that it gets any easier. Great post Sue - full of your usual strong imagery and honesty 🙂

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