After I finished writing Burnt Paper Sky, I made a resolution, and that was to make sure that my writing process for my second book would be much more organized and efficient.
I had started Burnt Paper Sky with little more than an idea of the type of book I wanted to write, an opening scene, and a vague concept of what I wanted the fate of the missing boy to be. I also had a piece of paper with a rough pencil sketch showing where the plot points should probably go, once I’d thought of them. That was it. The rest I made up as I went along, with the result that I got so much wrong in my first draft that I had to spend over a year rewriting it.
So, for my second book, I had better intentions. I would plan it, I thought, I would organize the material and map out the plot, the pacing and the characters and do all the things that I’m probably supposed to do, and might have been taught to do had I been on a course.
That resolution lasted about two days, during which I stared at a blank page that had ‘synopsis’ written at the top and couldn’t think of a single bit of detail to put down. I was absolutely paralysed. I had an idea for the book, and a main narrator, but still I couldn’t do it. Grey mist had descended.
What that showed me is that I am, resolutely, a seat of my pants, make it up as you go along writer, and that’s because, simply, I get my best ideas when I’m actually writing. That’s when the characters develop and interact with one another, and become rounded, and that’s when ideas begin to spark. I get some fireworks in the grey mist.
So I’ve had to accept that, much as I’d like it to be different, and more predictable and controlled, my actual process is a bit messy and very intense.by