Hello from the North West!
Well, autumn is officially upon us here, August ended with a particularly soggy note. Not that I’ve spent much time outside, it’s all hands to the pump – my hands at least!
As I mentioned in my last newsletter this, and future notes for the foreseeable, will cover the mechanics of the new book I’m writing to give a bit of insight as to how, what and when. Originally, I was going to work on the next Gray novel (The Silent Dead will be published on 17th September). However, I’ve decided to work instead on a completely new series in conjunction with my editor / agent. This isn’t to say Sol won’t return – he certainly will (he’s left with a bit of a problem at the end of the new book).
The reason for something new is constraint – the characters, Gray in particular, restrict to a certain degree the subject matter and style I write in. As Lee Child says, books in a series should be, “Different, but the same.”
The Konstantin series is a good case in point – he’s a totally different character (ex-KGB officer in hiding) as is the narrative style – short, punchy sentences. The underlying similarity is, of course, Margate.
So, at the moment I’m in an outlining phase. When I’m working on a new novel that’s all I do – write, write, edit, edit. I try hard not to think about the next idea to distract myself. Once the finished manuscript goes off to the editor for a good kicking I swing into the marketing phase – there’s a lot to get ready to publish a book – blurb, cover, author quotes, the mechanics of setting up on Amazon. The list goes on (quite a bit).
Then the MS comes back from editing and I’ll take a week or so to implement everything before it goes for a final copy edit. When the updated MS returns again I check and implement the suggestions. This whole stage can take four to six weeks. It’s good down time and that’s when I’ll settle into the thinking and outlining.
I tend to have a piece of paper to hand and jot down a few ideas, then put them into a word document and just build as I go. I’ll bounce a couple of ideas off friends and my wife but usually this is a solo process as I pull together a five or six page list of character motives, key events and actual chapters.
Not this time.
In a big change a couple of days ago a handful of ideas went to my editor, Al – three events which drive the new story I'm considering, three events over which the protagonist has no control. Thankfully, Al liked the approach so next I pulled together a two page outline, just focusing on the main key events. The beginning and middle are nicely fleshed out, the end is simply a conclusion at this stage; there’s still a fair bit to flesh out for the protagonist to actually achieve his goal.
Right now (literally) I’m waiting for feedback from Al. Theoretically the more time we spend on the preparation, the writing ‘should’ be faster. In the past I barely outlined at all. I’d write maybe 90 – 100,000 words and end up with a 60,000 word novel because so much of the text was useless. That’s a very time consuming and frustrating way to operate, believe me… The trouble is I always itch to get going.
Anyway, I’ll be back in touch soon with an update. In the meantime here’s the cover for the new Gray to keep you going!
And, I'm always happy to chat, feel free to drop me a line either here or in my closed Facebook group.
All the best.
Hello from the North West!