Lovely Australian readers, hello from the currently very snowy UK! I’m here to tell you a bit about how I wrote my latest book, MAYBE THIS TIME, because all authors have their own ways of doing it but we’re all also - secretly - longing to hear of a new and different method that might miraculously make writing books easier!
Personally, I help myself along by using really gorgeous notebooks, beautiful fountain pens and magical inks. I use the notebooks for writing down ideas for plots and characters and interesting situations that I might be able to weave into the story. First names, surnames, funny phrases and snippets of news items get added too. And once I start writing, I’ll also make notes of everything that’s happened so far, because otherwise I’ll forget and the storyline will go horribly awry.
I wait until I reach the end of a good sized chunk of the book before dividing the story up into chapters - this is so much easier than trying to write scenes and events in chapter-sized pieces. And I also create a really long timeline which I fill with Post-It notes containing details of what needs to happen to the characters at some stage further along in the story. Several other writer friends have begun using this method too - it’s very pleasing! Here’s what my timeline looks like half way through a novel:
This book differs from my others in that although it’s largely based in the Cotswolds, my main character goes to live and work abroad for a period of time, and I really enjoyed doing this. Cino and I took our first ever child-free foreign holiday together eighteen months ago, and completely fell in love with a smallish town called Puerto Pollensa on the Spanish island of Mallorca...so I knew I had to use the setting in my next book! Here’s a photo of our hotel (The Miramar) taken by me while I was standing in the sea, praying I wasn’t about to drop my iPad in the water.
So once I’d decided to send my heroine to Puerto Pollensa, I needed to find a reason for her to go there, and invented a nightmare boss for her to work for. His name is CJ, he’s a hugely successful author of thrillers...and I think he might be one of my favourite characters yet. People are already telling me how much they love him and he was fantastic fun to write. CJ is rude, bolshy and short tempered, he has a high opinion of himself and a low opinion of pretty much everyone else, and he hates writing almost as much as he hates people. Thanks to his career, though, he’s hugely wealthy, which just seems downright unfair. Oh, I do love writing characters like that! But of course CJ is all those bad things for a reason, and as his own story unfolds, we begin to understand what made him the way he is...and we dare to hope that, just maybe, he’ll be able to see the error of his ways ...
This is the joy of writing ‘into the mist’ rather than planning everything from the word go - I had no idea CJ was going to appear in my book - he just turned up one day and pretty much refused to go away. Ooh, and I must add that in no way whatsoever is he based on any crime or thriller writer, living or dead. All the ones I’ve ever met have been brilliant and nothing like CJ at all, honest!
So there we go! If you do decide to try Maybe This Time, and would like to tell me what you think of it, you can reach me at @JillMansell on Twitter and Instagram, and I have my Jill Mansell Author Page on Facebook too.
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