Saturday, 11 February 2012


                Last week, on Saturday 4th, I put aside all the pressing things I felt I had to do, got out a large felt-tipped pen and a pack of index cards, and sat at my kitchen table.  I had with me the rough notes I’d been scribbling for ‘the next big thing’.
                I took cards from the pack and scribbled steps in the story on them.  The first one I wrote reads, ‘Rich man talking to genetic engineers: wants clones for immortality.’
                After scribbling several more, I had a thought and wrote, ‘Is it only UK Pirate State that will allow this?’ – and put that card at the head of all the others.
                More scribbling and shuffling, and then, ‘Throughout, mention of UK as ‘pirate state.’ I placed that card on top of and overlapping several others.
Our winter arrived last week
                After a while, I took coloured pens and added coloured squares to the cards, to show how characters and incidents linked.  I invented some new characters and also some new twists that hadn’t occurred to me before.  In less than an hour, I felt I’d made progress, and things were clearer in my head.  So I already think this method of working out a plot – which I learned from Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel – is a success.
                I shall leave the cards spread out on the table and return to them, shuffle them, add to them, and see what happens.
                LATER. While I was upstairs changing the bed, and other household chores, ideas came, out of the blue – ideas that would connect up right through the plot, from beginning to end.  So I went back down to the kitchen, wrote out more cards, and put them in place.
                Right!  Now for the Sterkarms.  I emailed my rough draft to my kindle, but wasn’t sure how  to manage the note-taking and mapping, as my kitchen table was covered with index cards.  Decided to use large tray on which I usually carry breakfast up to bed when my partner stays over.  That means the cards can stay on the table undisturbed, and I can do beat-sheet work on my sofa, with tray.
                LATER.  Am knocking off work at 8pm, but have reached chapter 8, having great fun writing in different colours for different characters and – as Roz Morris suggests – drawing little happy faces for happy parts and little shocked faces for shocking parts, and exclamation marks to show surprises.  Have drawn little red hearts for romantic bits.  Have already noted places where chapters should be divided into two, or joined together.  Am beginning to get head round the time sequence – a bit.  But so far am working with the fairly well worked first half of book.  Later on it’s going to be much harder.  But that’s for another day. 
          Tomorrow will have to answer emails, do admin for Authors Electric, cook and other boring things.  But the cards will still be spread out on my table, for shuffling; and it will all be mulling and brewing in my head.
          I'm glad to have made a start at last.


JO said...

How organised you are - I am most impressed!

madwippitt said...

I like your Kindle cover!

The card system was interesting - but next time can you please blur the focus a bit when takng pics so that insatiably nosy people like me can't read the plot and ending!

Susan Price said...

Jo, I'm very rarely organised - and you can't see the chaos outside the frame! I like that about photographs.

And Madwippit - those cards are planning out the very first stages of a book. It's all likely to end in the bin - in fact I've already moved the cards at the end aside. More in next week's thrilling episode!

Jenny Alexander said...

I'm definitely going to have to get that book - my planning stage looks more like a compost heap! Blot made me laugh out loud today - thank you, Blot :)

Penny Dolan said...

Love Blott, as ever. Reminds me at times of that "Simon's Cat with the (Computer) Mouse" video, But better, of course, Blott in case you're reading.

Really interested to see you using this approach, Sue. Will not bore with why. But am caught yet again as I have no Kindle on to which to download this book - but it also seems as if it is a good "disembodied" way to go through a m/s! Yours doesn't look like the "cheap" new amazon version though.

Good luck with the many pens.

Susan Price said...

Penny - you don't need a kindle to read an e-book. You can get a free kindle app for your computer. There are links to the free page on Electric Authors - and (note to self) I ought to put one on mine!
And no, my kindle is the older kind. I am quite jealous of the new model smaller ones that both my brothers now own. Okay, they don't hold as many books - but then, Amazon holds all your purchased books for you in a great cloud bookcase in the sky - but the newer ones are cheaper, lighter, smaller, and do everything that mine does. Isn't that annoying?