I was taken away from my duties at the keyboard yesterday by a ‘real life’ issue, but today it should be business as usual. I hope this blog post finds you all well?
I had a bit of ‘thinking time’ yesterday, during which I was furiously plotting (of course) and amusing myself by writing ‘blurbs’ for the backs of my future novels. I only managed to do a few of these blurbs, but – as well as being a lot of fun – I realised that they had a wonderful and useful function, too. As I sat, trying to find the catchiest way to condense a plotline into 100 words or less, I realised: What a great way to focus your mind on the important bits of your story.
I’ve blogged before about blurbs in relation to other books, and how they can make or break your decision to pick up a book if you saw it on a shelf. Some people will be attracted to a particular blurb, while others will not; a good blurb can sometimes fool an unwary reader into buying a not-so-good book. (This, of course, has happened to me on several occasions – but I’m not going to name names, this time!) Blurbs are vital when it comes to selling a book, undoubtedly. But they’re also useful tools for those of us who like to create books. I’m going to start doing one for every idea I’m currently mulling over, just to see what I come up with.
Anyway, yesterday, I found myself writing blurbs for the book I’ve just written, and the sequel that I’m planning. I also wrote a blurb for the book I’m currently working on, and the sequels I’m planning for that one. And, as well as making me really think about the important, essential details of the plot, it also made me excited about what I’m doing. It made me realise what’s interesting and intriguing about the stories, and it got me to really investigate the ‘hook’ of the books I’m working on. Writing them filled me up with that particular sort of restless ‘fizz’ you get in your blood when you’ve really hit on something that you love to do. The blurbs I wrote may never grace the cover of anything – come to that, the books I’m writing may never grace a shelf, anywhere! – but that’s not even the point of writing them. It was just an exercise to help me, and as well as that, I really enjoyed it.
Does anyone else make out chapter plans when starting a novel, by the way? I did when writing ‘Tider’ (the old WiP) but I haven’t made out a chapter plan for my current WiP yet. I have a clear idea where I want the story to go, and so I didn’t feel the need to actually write down what I wanted to do in each chapter – I figured an overall plot structure would do. However, I do find myself stopping and re-reading what I’ve written a lot more regularly than I did with ‘Tider’. It’s like I tend to forget where I am in terms of the plot, and I have to remind myself every so often. With ‘Tider’, I had the written novel structure to refer to. I didn’t always stick to it, of course, and the story changed and morphed as I wrote it, but I did lean quite heavily on the chapter plan, and the story ended up exactly where I’d planned it. The plot of the current WiP, tentatively entitled ‘Eldritch’, is a lot less complicated than ‘Tider’, and I suppose this was the rationale behind not sketching out the contents of each chapter on paper first. However, I wonder how much further I’ll get with the book before I need to revisit that decision! I guess I’m the kind of person who needs a plan and a clear structure. It’s hard to write a detailed chapter plan for a book that doesn’t exist yet, but – just like writing a blurb – it really helps your brain to focus on what you’re doing and what you want to achieve, and it makes you sort the important details of the plot from the supporting structure.
I also started reading Laini Taylor’s ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ yesterday – its blurb was just too intriguing to pass up. However, I sort of wish I’d waited to start reading it until I was finished with my current project, because the book is just… stupendous. Incredible. There aren’t enough superlatives! Reading something so good, when you’re trying to write yourself, is a bit overwhelming. It sort of makes you think ‘what do I think I’m playing at, trying to write books?’ I’m really enjoying it so far – it’s not really the kind of book I normally love, but the author is dealing with her subject matter in such a fresh way that it really appeals to me. Also, there’s the writing – the gorgeous, gorgeous writing! I have to stop talking about it, in case I swoon.
And, as for the blurbs I wrote yesterday? Here’s the one I wrote for ‘Eldritch’, my new WiP. See what you think:
” ‘Jeff Smith is such a boring name. Sometimes, I wish names could get passed down from your mum instead. I think I’d have a lot more luck with girls if I could introduce myself, Bond-style, as ‘Asotolat – Jeff Astolat.’ “
Ever since his mother’s death, Jeff’s life has just ticked over. He can’t remember the last time anything interesting happened to him, and his dad is as normal as dads get. That all starts to change as his thirteenth birthday approaches, and he gets three very weird gifts from three eccentric old relatives…
His Eldritch Test has begun, and Jeff’s life will never be the same again.