One of the great things that has come from publishing my book earlier this year is the confidence it has given me to keep moving ahead on writing and publishing. And the personal challenge that I’ve given myself is to write a short novel.
Now, non-fiction writing is not a problem for me. After all, it’s what I’ve done from 9:00 to 5:00 every work day for more years than I care to contemplate. But writing a work of fiction, now that’s something very different.
I first tried my hand at fiction many, many years ago as an 11-year-old. Tired of reading Nancy Drew mystery after mystery in which Nancy magically never got older and never, ever changed in her relationship to Ned Nickerson, much less have a different boyfriend, I decided to write a book in which Nancy had gone to college and got engaged to Ned. The book never got past chapter one and Nancy’s exciting beach rescue of a mysterious swimmer in trouble (did you know Nancy was an expert swimmer?), partly because I wasn’t exactly sure what should come next and partly because I had homework to do and piano lessons to practice.
Fast forward to now. Perhaps it’s the liberation of seeing my first book in print, but I now have several plot lines in my head for other books. However, I haven’t made a lot of progress in getting a good start on even one of them because the idea of crafting a work of fiction seems so intimidating. That’s why this blog is turning out to be a good thing. There are only so many comments and pithy observations I can make before running out of material — semi-interesting material, anyway.
So, I’m going to take the plunge and get started. As part of this process, I’m going to share my journey with the whole wide world as a way of motivating and pushing myself to keep writing and working on my dream, which is to get book #2 in print.
My general idea for the first plot line is pretty simple. A couple buys an old house and soon discovers a walled-off room in the old cellar. The wife, in particular, wants to find out why the room was sealed and who was in the room. As she investigates this mystery, ultimately uncovering the tragedy behind it, she begins to sense a presence in the house that is not always benign.
Now, this could end up being a decent book that keeps the reader in suspense and interested in finding out what happens. It could also be trite and shopworn, since part of this basic premise isn’t exactly new news.
I’ve been watching Martha Alderson’s video series on YouTube on How To Plan and Plot a Novel and will be following her workshop, step by step, to help me build this storyline. Now, there are a number of “how to” videos and blogs and books out there, but the reason I’ve picked Martha’s is that its structure and approach fits the way my brain works.
So, here goes. Step One is to decide who the main character is and what that person wants — what is the goal he/she feels passionately about? What they want can’t be vague or unmeasurable; it has to be something concrete and definable, so that the reader (and author!) will know whether they’re getting closer to or further away from that goal as the book progresses. Stay tuned; I’ll be working on this in the next days!