Pandora’s Box of Imagination: Confessions of a Budding Novelist

Image: Leaf on Stair

So over the weekend my close writing confidant read the chapters I had already completed on the novel, and the verdict was close to my own, some settings and characters have to be saved for other books. I need to streamline. Imagine doing that with close personal friends who you know the whole history of. I can’t keep you my friend, not now anyway, for you are not forwarding my personal progress. I have to put you to one side and press onwards.  Bye, bye dear ‘wall paper. ‘  Yet as my friend says the wall paper can reappear, the characters can come back in new novels.  They can take centre stage where now they might be background.  I have to liberate them.  Goodness one might even say I have to place them into stasis for a while.  They are all having a collective coma, saying, ‘write me, write me…soon please finish that first novel so I can come alive.’

How special is it to have someone that has the patience to see the potential in something you are creating and not crush it, but say ‘keep going.’   Furthermore, to give you just the right sort of critical comment to make you construct a stronger text.  Honesty is important in the process as I would much rather that my reader from nanowrimo told me the truth – and didn’t just give me a comment that evaded the truth, better to have it now than from a publisher saying it needed so much more work, or they didn’t finish reading it.

So this is my week for plots and outlines, and my reader has to wait. The book will be transformed, but the quest will be the same. Some characters are for the future and so I bid farewell to them for a while. They will lie dormant as if in a Pandora’s box of creative writing.  I have to be careful not to open that box because the novel cannot have too many characters.  My readers simply will not cope.  I am carefully placing some characters and settings into that Pandora’s box of my own imagination and putting a big rock – probably one from my own childhood memories, on top of that box.  There, now I can’t open it for a while, and they can’t jump out.   It’s a new day and I can begin to write again!

(c) June Perkins, all rights reserved, words and image.

Confessions of a budding novelist, or after nanowrimo

After 180 pages with no plan other than a basic plot outline, I have decided that I have written a culture, a bunch of characters that I adore (far too many) and I know which passages are in the flow.  My world is visual, alive, vibrant, and I just love lots of it.  If  I am pleased than hopefully my reader will be too.

I don’t know what I am doing, just that I am being written by my novel.   I began knowing I wanted it to be fantasy.  I had a whole year or so working with the many writing prompts in Soul Food, and I have learnt the discipline of daily writing.  I certainly don’t suffer from writer’s block, but I do need to work on my PLOTTING.

Now comes focus, and finding a way to work my way through that first novel.  I have decided that one way to encourage my journey to the finish of this project is to read.  Yes, stop writing occassionally and read any book in the genre that I love, and look at what keeps me reading, knowing where the characters are, and how fluent the writing I love actually is.

I am tempted to shelve the whole of my first novel, throw it in a drawer, and begin again, or press onto the end, and see what happens.  Then I will know where to go.  Alternatively I have written out all the strands of the novel and tried to think which threads do I need for book 1.  Yes, I have come to the realisation I have planned a series, a world, and a series of character that could keep me going for years, if I can just master this first novel, and have my novel behave itself enough for the reader to be hooked in.

I really don’t know if I could show it to a mentor writer without cringing, it needs more work than that – I do have a close friend reading it, egging me on, letting me know which bits are working for her.  I am being pushed around by my creation.  Characters keep saying -‘ no me I am your central character’.  It’s time to take them in hand and say, ‘No you are the next novel – honest I’ll get to you’, it is time to make some tough decisions.

I do know that I do have a vivid and varied imagination.  Now it’s time to apply the magic and just make the novel work.  So enough of the procrastination, time to make every moment count and maybe come at it like a puzzle.  The months after nanowrimo have been truly tough as the editorial haze nit picking kicked in and I just started to wonder where my story was going.  Now that haze is lifting and I am reading to do a more realistic outline and work with it to make it what it needs to be.
Sometimes to help me create the novel I let the characters speak on their behalf.   This is one of the potential candidates for the lead role.  She is still significantly like this, only she has an aunty, lost parents, a quest, and she is already at circus school.  I do like to remember where she came from and her auditions for the role though.

Image: From my Writer's Scrapbook

© June Perkins, all rights reserved.