What I learnt this week: 16th March 2017

Beginning a new book

Those of you who read this blog (come on, admit it, that’s you, mum) will know two weeks ago I was about to start my next book – a short Christmas book, targeting around 50,000 words.

So how is it going?

Well, as you’ve been kind enough to show some interest, I’ll tell you.

I’ve started it (cue fireworks).

Fireworks NYE

It’s always a big relief to get those first words down. Not that I’m daunted by the blank page – in fact often I’m excited by it. To me it represents a world of possibilities; maybe this book will be the one that takes off, the one that lands me in Hollywood, helping the producers turn it into a film staring Chris Hemsworth (cue some photos so you’ll feel it was worth visiting my blog this week).

chris_hemsworth chris_hemsworth 2 chris_hemsworth 3

What this writer is daunted by is what I actually put on that first page. Once I’m into the book, it all falls into place (until an editor comes along and shuffles it round again) but I often struggle with those first few chapters.

I’m clear where the story is going…yes, okay, we all know it’s a romance based around Christmas, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Honest. I’m also clear on my main characters – in fact I even have biographies for them to help form my thinking. Over the years these biographies have developed from: tall, dark hair, brown eyes, to something more detailed. Now I don’t just know what they look like, I know their back story, their likes and dislikes, their personality. Their vulnerabilities.

What I struggle with is this; at what point do I delve into their story? And from whose point of view? Do I need a prologue to set it up?

I’ve learnt not to dwell too much. Better to get stuck in and get on with it, than to dither for ages trying to work out the best path to take. After all, the overall direction I’m heading in is clear. It’s just there’s more than one route I can take at the start, and knowing which is best isn’t always obvious until I’ve begun to walk down it. I use the same principle when I’m map reading, too. The difference is with writing, if I later find there was a better path (less muddy, more downhill. Perhaps going past a café and a pub. And a chip shop) it’s easy to go back and edit my words. With walking, it’s a long slog back up that hill to begin again. By which time you’re muddy, starving hungry and your family have threatened to never walk with you again.

So I’ve set off, 8,500 words in, and so far I’m walking at a decent pace. I’ll let you know how I get on over the next few months. I’m hoping that chip shop will come in view very soon.

chips no mayo

  • Chris Stovell

    I read this and your last post with great interest! Time to write a book… still plotting the one I’m twelve thousand words into… and as for starting it, I agree that it’s not until you set off down the road that the route starts to appear… mind you, it’s a bit daunting keeping the faith! Good luck – looking forwards to that new book! xx

    • Kathryn Freeman

      Ah yes, keeping the faith is probably the hardest part. But don’t doubt yourself – anyone who can write the books I’ve read of yours, and can also write in snazzy magazines like you do, is one hell of a writer.