When you first start writing, the big thrill is finishing something, be it a great sentence, paragraph, chapter, short story, book. Something you’re willing to show someone.
Then it’s on to the next thing, which is…
Writing, I’ve come to find, is the insatiable beast that must be fed less ye wish to find yourself back in the obilion of irrelevance! I don’t actually believe that, but, it is true that a one off, be it a poem, article, short story, or book, needs to be followed up.
Unless, you’re J D Salinger.
The answer I glommed onto was the series, for the very good reason that I fell in love with the main characters and wanted to continue telling their story. That’s all fine and dandy until you have to actually get into the weeds of what they’re up to in the next installment. To get there I use themes, big overarching ideas under which I base the story.
For instance, in the first Monk book, Where Fools Dare to Tread, the major themes were identity and redemption, and they were woven into the story and characters of Monk and Agnes. in the following books (there are 5 at this point), the themes were family and religion, death, war, and politics. the 6th book will focus on gender and corruption. Fun stuff.
It’s fun only when you’ve set a direction and can see the road ahead. Before that it’s, ok, I have an idea, how do I turn that into a story?
I start with where Monk is in his life and how the story impacts him and those around him. From there, it’s where he ends up-how the story ends. At that point, we get to the meat and potatoes-which for me is the best part-which is getting him and the others from beginning to end. Character development, and the chaos relationships endure, comes in the small interactions and I find that they will drive the story as well, because that informs both the reader and the characters. That and the plot has to make some sort of sense.
Then, when you finish, you can sit back for 5 minutes luxuriating in what you’ve accomplished before the mind-numbing process of editing kicks in.
©2019 David William Pearce