I’m now just under 25,000 words into the new novel, a psychological thriller dealing with memory flashbacks. At some point soon, however, I will need to go back to the first novel and resubmit to the agent. I heard the other day that the editor is currently reading the story, meaning the editor’s report will soon be available. I don’t know whether to be nervous or excited about it.
I’ve finally reached the 20,000 words mark in my current novel, a psychological thriller set in the south of England. The story addresses a recent incident and flashbacks of a childhood event.
As a father and his daughter launch seperate investigations into what really happened, the daughter begins to suspect that someone is following her. The events that follow trigger off flashbacks of a past event in her early childhood.
Meanwhile, the father is unaware that he, too, is being watched.
From chapter ten, Dawn’s viewpoint.
The rain started almost as soon as she stepped inside the hallways, great thudding drops of rain pelting the cottage windows. The sky had darkened, clouds heavy and smoky, promising another bout of severe weather or storm conditions. She took a look in each room checking for signs of further disturbance, then showered and changed into a fresh set of clothes, switching on the kitchen radio to drown out the quiet. Already, the solitude was getting to her, reminding her of recent incidents: the lights coming on in the middle of the night, the phone call from the woman stating she wasn’t welcome in the town, the sense of someone watching her by the ATM machine four days ago.
Fetching her laptop from the bedroom, she switched it on and spent an aimless hour and a half surfing the Net while the rain worsened outside, falling against the paving stone. The sky grew darker, causing her eyelids to grow heavy from lack of sleep the last three nights. She logged off and placed the laptop aside.
Suddenly, she was stirring, yawning. Whispery, dusk-like, shadows filled the cottage lounge, although it was only twenty to five in the afternoon, according to the clock on the wall. She sat up. Out in the front, thunder sounded in the distance, like an oncoming train. A flicker of lightning illuminated the sky followed seconds later by more thunder. She switched on the main lights.
The phone rang in the hallway.
When she answered, the woman who’d rung on Sunday spoke, hissing like before. ‘Didn’t I tell you the other day, we don’t want you in our town?’
Click. The caller had hung up.
More thunder. It echoed through the bay, seeming to shake the cottage for a few seconds. A shot of lightning surged through the sky, closer to the cottage than before, followed by crackling in the air and another crash of thunder.
I’m not going to let this woman drive me away, she thought, shaking with anger as she went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. She took a step back when she saw what was in the fridge.
Two cartons of Chinese takeaway, one packed above the other, by the bottle of wine Dad and Pippa had brought her at the weekend..
The cartons hadn’t been there on Sunday.
I’m now at 17,000 words in my current novel, a psychological thriller set in coastal Dorset, rural Sussex and West London. Having struggled with a recent bout of writer’s block, I feel I’ve finally solved some of the structural problems regarding plot.
Some tips regarding plot and writer’s block:
- Jot down ideas that come to mind as you read your manuscript
- Keep lists of story questions and refer to these if you don’t know what to write next
- Establish the motives governing the behaviour of each leading character early on in the writing process
- Take a one or two day break from writing if necessary
- Read a novel in the same genre
Short Excerpt from Chapter Nine, Neil’s viewpoint
All nights are bad, but some worse than others. Tonight’s one of the more difficult nights. Pippa sleeps beside me, but apart a couple of hours of disturbed sleep I caught when I went to bed earlier, I’ve been awake since two o’clock in the morning, too churned up to relax after finding the train ticket among Katie’s precious photographs. The heat is overbearing, coming from inside the bedroom as well as from outside the house. I’m surprised that Pippa can sleep in it.
Tonight, a part of me is back in the old village in Sussex where the eight of us lived as neighbours once. Me, Aileen and the girls. Bill, Lizzie and the two boys. Only Bill, Dawn and I keep in contact now, although Bill occasionally meets up with his older son, who has issues of his own to contend with. No word on the younger boy. After it all happened, we sold up. I returned to London with Dawn, and Bill and Lizzie moved a short car ride away from the village where our two families had formed close ties, to another village almost identical to the first. I can’t understand how he can possibly bear to stay in the region.
Pippa murmurs in her sleep, but doesn’t awaken.
I swallow hard. More than twenty years have passed since the death of my first wife, but it is all still too raw for me. And once again, I’m running…running from the silence that hangs heavily, like a fog, in the cottage next to Bill and Lizzie’s…running down the garden path to the woods at the back of the cottages, shouting for Dawn and her mother, branches crunching under my boots. Aileen I yell. Dawn Where are you? They don’t answer me. The afternoon light is fast fading. Bill, Lizzie and the boys are out: I’ve already checked at theirs. Rusty leaves litter the ground, damp from the frost, and an icy chill sweeps through the air, clinging to my donkey jacket. When I reach the top of the grass mound by the fields, I notice a trail of footsteps next to the fence and a crumpled up packet of cigarettes.
And then, I see her face down in the water. And I know at once that it is too late to save her. But there is no sign of Dawn. She has vanished, like Katie.
I hurry back to the cottage to contact the police.
I’m still at it…revising the first six chapters of a draft, a psychological thriller I started earlier in the year. Several times in the past, I’ve read that writers never find the novel writing process easy; if anything, the process gets harder over time because the writer’s standards increase. I think that’s certainly true.
Viewpoint, dialogue, scene setting….these seem manageable to a point. The problem in this particular novel revolve around creating a feasible and believable plot.