Alan is a web designer, living in London and married to Lana.  But when Lana disappears, abandoning their eight-year-old son, Alan’s nightmare is just beginning.  Forced to move to his sister’s country cottage, he struggles to rebuild his life.  But on the eve of the move, he receives an email from someone in his past. The events that follow trigger a series of flashbacks, dragging Alan deeper into the past and danger.

I’m at that stage again, nearly a quarter of the way through a psychological thriller and wondering how to proceed.  Instinct tells me I should concentrate on the central character himself – what he most wants, what he most fears, his conflicts, his hopes.  In the past, I tended to give the other viewpoint characters (i.e. sister, best friend) too much space in the story, resulting in a piece of writing that had too many strands and confusing details.

I’ve found that holding back on important disclosures and letting the reader make the connections allows the story to unfold.  To do this, I’m writing many of the scenes from scratch with the central story questions in mind, rather than relying on previous drafts. 

The novel also includes some memory flashbacks and instances where the character confuses significant childhood memories – this is the part I’ve reached in the story.  I feel the novel is taking shape, but it’s a long and tedious process.

Finally, I’m experimenting with present tense in all the viewpoint narratives – that’s first person present tense for the central character and third person present tense for the other viewpoints.


8 thoughts on “Novel Writing: Projecting The Story

  1. “I’ve found that holding back on important disclosures and letting the reader make the connections allows the story to unfold.”

    I think that’s the key right there, the reader involved in a guessing game, perhaps being right or incorrectly assuming. The elements of a thriller are the “What if…?” questions/games that the reader engages in with the writer.

    Continued success.

  2. Thanks, Geraldine. Try making a list of story questions as you read through your work or jot down ideas that come immediately to mind and base the story around them. I think an intuitive approach is the best way forward. Hope this helps.

    I’m about to take a look at your blog now.

  3. Good luck with your book and experiments! I just started my newest novel, and am still excited to get back to it, but I know all too well when the newness dries up and getting words on paper becomes a chore instead of pleasure. I think throwing in something out of the ordinary, like an unusual perspective or unconventional technique often makes me more excited to write, even if it is a bigger challenge.

  4. Yes, I can relate. After the newness, comes the dryness. It’s happened many times during my writing.

    Thanks for commenting, Emily. All the best with your work,


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