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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Starting a new book v Planning a Party. Very similiar, but with less... well, no, balloons in both cases.

Starting a new book is, it now seems to me, exactly like planning a party.  Well, almost exactly, in that when I start a new book I don't often have to worry about how many bottles to get in, or balloons, or things like that, but in other ways, surprisingly similar.  Although, now I come to think of it, I quite often need a few bottles in when I'm writing... and actually, sometimes balloons, so I stand by my original comment.  Or maybe it's just that planning anything is like planning anything else, I don't really know, since I am to planning what cats are to astrophysics..

So it's just as well that the party has a co-planner.  This 'party' which I am bandying about so recklessly, is the North's contribution to the RNA party-season, an Afternoon Tea party which we are hosting in York Guildhall on 5th of September for RNA members, friends, general hangers-on and anyone who likes romantic fiction and a really good scone.
My co-planner, Lynda Stacey, is very organised.  She does the lists, the printed sheets, the tickets, the spreadsheets, the forms... while I have cornered the market in nodding, smiling and putting things in a post box.  Sometimes I even let go...

And, I have discovered, the writing world is divided into those who plan and those who nod, smile and do the writing equivalent of putting things in post boxes.

I have friends who plan their books to the last detail.  They have flip charts and whiteboards and index cards and colour co-ordinated pens and Post-Its.  They have files on their characters' backstories and pictures stuck on boards that remind them how their characters look.  They do timelines separate ones for each character, to make sure that everything works out...

And then there are those of us who nod, smile and worry unneccesarily about balloons. I have yet to actually plan a book.  I start out with a couple of characters and a situation, and some kind of vague idea about a couple of scenes that may or may not happen somewhere during the book.  From there, I sort of throw myself at the story, flailing my arms and legs and flinging plot lines up into the air, until everything comes down in an order that makes some sort of sense.

And then there are balloons.

So, when people ask me how I am going about planning the book I am just starting now, I nod, smile and refer them to party planning in the hope that they won't ask me any more awkward questions.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get on with my WIP (currently titled Living in the Past) and, co-incidentally, eat four hundred egg sandwiches, which seem mysteriously to have arrived...



5 comments:

Kathryn Freeman said...

So glad to hear from another nod and smiler! Keep doing it - It's a very underrated skill. And your books prove you're definitely going about this planning in the right way :-)

Chris Stovell said...

I'm in the 'freeze in horror until the Scary Thing is slavering in your face' camp of writing at the moment. I could do with a cake and a balloon.

Angela Barton said...

Congratulations on you latest book, Jane. As usual - a wonderful cover. I like the idea of smiling, balloons and eggs sandwiches. *checks bus timetable to Yorkshire* x

Stephanie Cage said...

Dammit, I saw balloons in the headline, and I read it as 'baboons'. Then I kept reading it as 'baboons' all the way through. I am glad there won't be baboons at the party. At least, I sincerely hope there won't...

Karen Critchley said...

You never know with Jane, there might be a few there ....... :-)