At some point last week, I realised that my WIP had largely lain neglected for six weeks. This, I thought, was not good. What happened? Somehow a couple of weeks of things, mounted in to more, and I hadn’t climbed the stairs to my garret. This week was different.
I’ve had a very productive week for Lancerota (working title, have I said?), and it all began with The Musketeers, a BBC Drama series. Pete and I had missed a few in a row so we had a major catch-up session on Monday night, three episodes back-to-back. There was a breakthrough moment for me, when I heard myself shouting “GO D’ARTAGNAN, GO!!” in a particularly tense swash-buckling scene when he could earn his position as a Musketeer. My husband sniggered at me, which made me capture the moment for the writer to analyse. What was it about the character, and the script writing, that made me so engrossed, so excited and quite frankly, half-frightened (Vinny Jones as the villain was an inspired piece of casting)? I cared about the character, and the stakes were massive.
This question has driven my work forward this week. I needed to find out more about the show’s writer, Adrian Hodges, and thank you BBC, I found just what I was after in a blog penned by Adrian himself. It was like finding a pot of gold. In the creation of The Musketeers, it spoke to my way of creating something – high level themes, asking questions, creating characters that matter, building authenticity (thinking about period), about shaping something. I have used this method countless times in my professional background when planning projects, or facilitating clients, and even writing academic essays. Why not do the same with Lancerota? My confidence-o’meter ratcheted up.
I have no idea where I turned to next, but in parallel to reading Donald Maass’s Breakout Novel (a brilliant book, review will follow when digested), somewhere online I stumbled across an article on The Snowflake Method of novel-writing. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but this former management consultant (me) likes a method (should be seven steps to be pure consulting, but ten is a good number), and I figured it was worth a go. I realised that I never had the ‘you are in the lift and have 15 seconds to sell your idea’ premise for Lancerota, and this has forced me to get sharper on it. I used to say this all the time in business, and yet, I hadn’t thought to apply it to my own WIP. No wonder I’ve flapped and flailed when friends ask me what I’m writing about – I do myself no favours in answering with a waffly vagueness. That didn’t happen when I was writing Hurt.
Step Two of The Snowflake Method asks you to write a paragraph about the book. I have several pages at the moment, but I got so excited as the ideas kept coming and I wanted to capture them. I shall allow that to flow and then prune a paragraph. That’s the two-minute article after the headline, when you have someone’s attention.
Step Three is about the characters, and this is what matters most to me in any book, so I am so looking forward to this activity, probably next week.
So, what a writing week! The gap is almost a distant memory. And if you haven’t seen The Musketeers, if you’re in the UK and can watch it on catch-up, do, otherwise, I hope it’s coming to a TV screen near you soon.
BTW – the photo is from BBC (thank you, I know I haven’t asked, but thank you).