The Bare Bones

Stick with it, there’s a novel in there somewhere.

So it’s time to get motivated (or shamed – either is fine with me) into starting work on the new novel. In some ways it feels a bit of a cheat when the previous two in the series haven’t been picked up yet. (Agents and publishers, form an orderly line…) And I’ve ruminated on it long enough to list my occupation on my passport as bovine.

For a long time, despite having enough conversations with my characters from Standpoint and Line of Sight to warrant therapy, the premise for a new novel eluded me. And then two completely separate, standalone book ideas came along, pulling me in different directions. I even started the two beginnings and kept them side by side on my desk, weighing them up. 

When Warren and Martin met up with me, for our usually quarterly writers’ gathering, they could see what I couldn’t. Neither new character would sustain an entire novel, but they’d fit the bill for antagonists and instigators in a new Bladen book. 

I didn’t plot the first two books in any detail. Standpoint came to life at a novel writing summer school in Falmouth (thank you, Jane Pollard), and my main character arrived pretty much fully fledged. Line of Sight was an experiment in ‘What happens next?’ and a desire to explore the background of one of the other Standpoint characters. Plus, I really liked the idea of writing the consequences from book one into a book two. 

This latest project (when, exactly, does it become a book?) is entitled The Caretaker and takes a slightly different approach. At this stage of the game, I have a collection of post-its, including the ending (which is out of camera in the image above), and a page of notes. There’s also the prologue and chapter one, taken from those formerly competing openings, but they might not make the cut. 

The writing of the first draft kicks off in earnest in July. Not so much nanowrimo as let’s see what I can do in three months of writing (lswicditmof – badges coming soon!).

I’ll keep you posted.

Meantime, what writing projects are you starting?


  1. Chloe says:

    Good luck! I find first drafts frustrating because they're never any good, and freeing because I know they're not going to be any good!

    I'm just starting the second draft of my latest novel and feeling the pressure… I think maybe I might need one of your badges.

  2. Hiya, Chloe. Yes, I confess that knowing that I'm knowingly writing tripe is hampering my productivity. I wonder if painters have the same issue with preliminary sketches?

    You're welcome to make your own page, as long as you send a picture of it. :o)

  3. Sandra Davies says:

    Some books insist on being unfinished, on a to-be-continued next one being written don't they?
    I was fascinated by Ian Rankin's method of 'collecting' possible story lines – not something I ever envisage doing – which obvously wrks for him, but am familiar with characters lying around waiting fr somethng to happen.
    Bet of luck with this one Deek – sounds like it's on its way.

  4. Thanks, Sandra. There's an added pressure for me as it's the third novel in a series and the characters are well known to me now. I like the idea of collecting elements of future novels and stories – I think most writers do it without even being aware of it.

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