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.