Elaine Forrestal

Letting the story tell itself

Looking out over the sea – dreaming and writing.

At the moment my new novel, Parallel, seems to be writing itself. There is such a short time, during the development stage, when this happens that I am loving every moment of it.

I am working on a central idea, but other ideas just keep flowing from it, popping out and saying, ‘Hey, how about me?’ The whole story is so fluid during this time that I can stop, think about the new idea, decide whether it fits or not. When I start to write it in narrative form it either seems right – or it doesn’t. If it goes down easily onto the page and the characters start to talk, I leave it there, for the moment. If it doesn’t, I will often leave it there, but write notes to myself about it. Maybe it does fit, but somewhere else in the story? Or maybe it will be dumped during the slash and burn stage.  I really love exploring the possibilities, getting to know the characters, writing everything down, but leaving lots of notes (in brackets) on the page. It looks incredibly messy. But it’s my way of reminding myself to check out this or that little detail, check out the appropriate accents, look at the dress styles of that era.

Because about half of this novel is contemporary fiction and the other half is set in the south of England in the early 1800s, which is a period I have already researched for a different manuscript, I haven’t done the initial research that I would have done for my historical fiction. I know there will still be facts that I need to check. Which ones, though? I don’t know until I’m further into the manuscript, writing an action  scene, or a chunk of dialogue. So for the moment I am just letting the story tell itself.

The hard work will come later!