Anatomy of a Novel Part 4: Dead ends and U-turns

From here.
From here.

As I’ve said before, books, like laws and sausages, are things you may not want to see getting made, and this is why. I think there’s a popular perception that authors just come up with a great idea and then write it down, but the reality is much messier. It’s not so much taking a road from A to B as finding your way through a labyrinth.

I wrote in  my last Anatomy of a Novel post about some of the unexpected difficulties I’ve been encountering recently with my newest story idea. The challenge (and I guess this is where experience comes in) is working out whether those difficulties are just minor speed bumps or terminal obstacles. In the case of The Dark Before the Dawn, I initially thought they were the former, but I’m increasingly getting the feeling that they’re the latter. Basically the middle is non-existent, and 200 pages of characters just wandering round the wilderness is pretty boring – just look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There’s not many writers who can pull that off successfully, and especially not plot-driven ones like me.

The good news is that I’m blessed with a husband who’s a wonderful sounding board for ideas, and between us we’ve come up with something new. It’s still set in Australia, still in the 1860s, but it’s much more in traditional mystery territory rather than quasi-literary fiction and there’ll be a murder and a ghost train, among other things. I’ve only done a rough outline at this point, but I already feel much more excited and enthused about it.

So what is it? Join my mailing list to find out – plus if you sign up in January you’ll automatically go into the running to win a signed copy of Greythorne or a $25 Amazon voucher.

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