Sunday, 7 March 2010

Moving on to the next book

I suspect it's the same for all writers - you've written the last chapter, revised the novel, got advice from trusted beta readers, tweaked and polished, until it's the best you can do. It's finished; now is the time to move on to the next book. But you don't want to. You want to stick around with those characters you have grown to love - even the nasty ones. They're closer to you than anyone real, and you can't bear to let them go.

Of course, you can side-step the issue by writing the sequel - but if you haven't yet sold the first novel, this is a Seriously Bad Idea. You could waste a year writing a book whose fate is inextricably tied to the first book, and may sink with it. It's time for something completely different. Which is what I started doing today.

I got the germ of the idea for Untitled on the long cold walks between home and workshop I've been doing since I fractured my humerus, and can't ride my bike. I brooded about how my broken bone had diverted, I hope briefly, the course of my life; I noticed all the useful stuff Londoners throw out; and I trespassed inside an unfinished, abandoned and vandalized block of flats on my way home.

I've been typing notes for a couple of weeks, but today I began writing a scene a few chapters in where my heroine meets a man who will play a large part in the plot, and I think the transition has been made. I'm beginning to find my new characters as absorbing as the ones I've regretfully left behind in Heart of Rock.



  1. Thank you for your time and effort in producing such an interesting blog! I am still a new blogger and I enjoy coming across neat blogs, especially blogs about writing. Best wishes in all your endeavors!

  2. Hi Richard, thanks for dropping by.

    I checked out your Divorce Lawyer blog - interesting - lots of material there should you take to writing fiction yourself :o)

  3. Thanks, Lexi. I would be honored if you visit my blogs again sometime! Actually, I already have drafts of two unpublished "war stories" books about criminal cases I have tried, as a state prosecutor and a federal prosecutor. I really enjoyed visiting your site, including your tips about writing and getting published, and I will keep my fingers crossed that you get published soon! Best wishes!

  4. I'm beginning to think that everyone has a book or two on their hard drive!

    Writing is pretty addictive, once you start...

  5. Hi Lexi!!

    You trespassed in a vandalized block of flats??? Are you crazy?? :-)

    You are such a writer! The things one does for one's art...! Looks like you were suitably inspired anyway.

    Heart of Rock is just resting and looking for a good home, is all. It will find one in time, I'm sure of it.

    In the meantime, Untitled is waiting to be born - so good luck with it - I hope the labour will be as painless as possible and will bring you equal joy and pleasure!

    Take care and WOO-HOO!!


  6. Kitty, I am crazy.

    Not at all sure about your birth metaphor. I remember thinking after the birth of my entirely terrific daughter, I won't be doing THAT again.

  7. Interesting post.

    As a reader, I find it hard to let certain books and characters go. When reading, you fall in love with the characters in much the same way you described and when I get to those last few pages I want to let them take just a little longer.

    With my favorite books, when there is no sequel coming, it is hard to let go.

  8. Wisdom, I so agree. I re-read my favourite books as away of not letting the characters go.

    Jane Austen knew what happened to her characters after her novels ended, as we know from her letters, and I imagine most authors do. I suppose with a living writer, one could write a fan letter and ask what happened next...

  9. Ah, but that would be telling. And we do our telling in our books. I think I would be afraid to ask what happens to a dear character for fear my vision will be different than the author's. Because even if I hadn't made it all clear and concrete, chances are I've got at least a fuzzy image of what happens next. It's part of the experience.

  10. I suppose you're right - there are some books, and films too, where I am NOT AT ALL HAPPY with the way things turn out. They'd probably get even worse after the last chapter.

  11. Hi Lexi

    Just wanted to say hi and hope this new novel is going well! Of course it is - you went and tresapassed a deserted building for inspiration!!

    Thank you too for your sweet condolence about my loss today.

    Take care

  12. Thanks, Kitty, my notes are growing.

    I went back to those flats yesterday to take more photos. I've become aware someone is living in one of them - there's a light on at night and two locks on the door. And I heard a cat mew inside. I'd love to interview the squatter for a first-hand description of what it's like.

  13. I agree, it is hard to let old characters go. But sometimes the new ones are shouting at me that it is their turn.

    They want their day in the sun, too.

  14. It's an exciting moment, when you suddenly 'get' a character; a bit like falling in love. There's an almost audible click as things fall into place.