Friday, 7 December 2012
Guest Post - Plotting After Powder Burn by Mark Chisnell
Plotting After Powder Burn – Part 1
One of the things I've learned about being a writer is that you have to keep the ideas flowing. And while I'm deep in the middle of what I hope will be the final rewrite for my next book, Powder Burn, I'm already worrying about the one after.
It’s time to start thinking about ideas for novel number five. I’ve decided to go for a series this time, kicking off with a sequel to Powder Burn. The main reason for this is that I just love the main character in this book, an American girl called Sam Blackett; here’s a little bit of Powder Burn that will give you a feel for her character:
She looked back down to the screen and the single email in her inbox. She’d sent out twenty-five more query letters to different newspaper and magazine editors just after she’d arrived in the city. All with ideas for travel stories. Score to date: zip for fourteen - all rejections. And the single email that glared back at her this morning? From her mother. Two months in India, nearly a month now in the Himalayas and only one story sold: to the Vermont Gazette, where her mother job-shared as office manager with Penelope-from-across-the-road. And she’d told this guy and his two mates that if they let her come with them, she would write up their expedition for Adventure magazine. She hadn’t thought they were serious. She had about as much chance of placing a story with Adventure as she did of winning a Pulitzer. Still, he wasn’t to know that. She glanced up, and caught Pete’s gaze for a moment...
In Powder Burn, Sam starts out as a spectacularly unsuccessful freelance journalist, gets herself into a whole world of trouble, somehow gets out of it intact - and with a helluva story to tell. It’s the break she needs for her writing career, and the idea of the series is that we follow her through various adventures and scrapes in pursuit of the next story.
The $64 million dollar question is... what story is next?
Like many writers I keep an ideas folder on my computer, and unlike most writers mine’s stuffed full of badly written paragraphs about a news item, or the thesis of a book, or just a couple of lines from a non-fiction account of something that interested me. This is where stories come from, or at least, it’s where my stories come from.
So I thought I’d write a few blogs working through some of those ideas, testing them out as stories and seeing where they might go. I’ve got a few months before I get Powder Burn finished, so there’s no rush. By the time I get around to the new book I should have plenty of potential stories, and with a bit of luck some idea of what potential readers think of them... I'll be back next week with the first