How Do You Write a Novel?
Last week, for World Book Day, I visited a fantastic shiny new high school in Hackney called Our Lady’s Convent High School. I got asked a lot of questions including that tricky old chestnut – How do you write a novel?
On the day, I’m not sure how clear and well organised my answer was so I’ll try again here.
I’ve written a few novels now so I OUGHT to be able to answer this question easily – but the truth is that I’m still not totally sure.
I know there’s a lot of head-scratching. I know there’s a lot of staring at my computer screen. I know there’s a lot of writing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting…. And I know there are some days where I sit and sulk on the stairs and some nights where I never actually go to bed. But I also know that when I’ve finished and hold the finished book in my hand, I CAN’T QUITE BELIEVE THAT I WROTE IT.
Which means that it’s also quite hard for me to take any credit for what I’ve written.
It’s a mysterious and baffling business; it really is.
One thing I can tell you is that I always start with a load of scribbles and doodles. The scribbles in the photo are the very starting point for the book called ‘Downside Up’ which will be out in July. I did these on the train from Norwich to London while I was on my way to meet my editor. Talk about flying by the seat of my pants! But then again, pant-flying seems to work quite well with me – it terrifies me into action. Mind you, a LOT about this book has changed along the way. Not only the title but many of the characters and pretty much the whole plot – but this was still my starting point. And then my ideas just developed – sort of randomly and with a lot of digressions – from there.
Doesn’t really sound like much of a plan, does it?
*Looks a bit shifty*
Well, it’s worked for me so far but… anyone know a better way to do it?