Catastrophe and the craft of writing (April 2009)

For my first blog, a brief introduction to the novel I’m presently writing.  This is my second attempt, the first being as yet unfinished but with much promise once the best can be tamed.This time I’ve taken a more measured approach and chosen to write for a specific market – teenagers!

Someone once told me that writing for teenagers was like writing for adults, minus the sex scenes.  Not so.  Teens have an endless capacity for deep, dark and dangerous, read voraciously irrespective of the material, play fast and loose with genres, and don’t bat an eyelid at things that would give many adults a fit of the vapours!The story I’ve developed is a thriller, codenamed Catastrophe, though what the final title will be I have no idea. Perhaps a little competition might be in order?As a theme is was inspired by my daughter Lindsey, who also described the leading protagonists.

As with Harry Potter and Jo Rowling, they apparently wandered into her mind fully formed and have been fleshed out in the course of writing.  I’ve grown to like them, and indeed the baddies written into the story too.  You could make a case for saying I don’t control them, they control me.  I often have no idea what they will end up doing, but they manage to catch me by surprise at regular intervals, the little blighters!!  For example, one of them committed a murder recently.  I was totally gobsmacked!  Hadn’t seen that one coming at all, though it was totally in character.

Writing is a fascinating and somewhat organic process.  Yes, you plan it out to a greater or lesser degree.  Some writers allow the story to meander from a fixed point (as with JRR Tolkein’s “this story grew in the telling”), while others research and plan down to the last degree and give themselves little room for manouvre.  I know pretty much how each chapter will end and I do know the massive denouement to which I am ultimately heading, but how I get to those landmarks does not necessarily follow a straight line. And in truth, I rather like that – it’s exciting to allow your characters free rein and to exercise their own initiative en route.  It seems to make for a fresher and less predictable end product.

More to follow on this gripping adventure!! 😀

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