Posted on | July 28, 2016 | No Comments
When you first receive word that you have a two-book deal with a publisher, you feel elated. Wow, not just one but two novels will be published. Then you realize you have to sit down and write the second one! When you signed that deal, you had no idea what the second novel would be about, you just knew it could NOT be a sequel to the first, something you’d considered and had already begun writing. So, set that one aside.
The pressure is on. On two fronts: 1) what’s this one going to be about? And 2) can I finish it on deadline? Okay, #2 first: Not only did I agree to have the second novel done during the same month as the release date of my first – yikes! – but what was I thinking since it took me three or four years to finish the first? True, the draft had only taken nine months, but then several re-writes took lots more time. True, I’d also been doing lots of other paid work. But now only a couple of months before the release date, and I’ve got less than half of novel #2 finished.
The good news: Answer to the first question: I have a solid handle on the plot trajectory of this novel. My characters are pretty firmly in place and the story seems to be flowing. What’s it about, you may ask. All Fall Down (working title) is about a woman (i.e., strong female character) who reaches the pinnacle of her career – well, almost – only to have it turn to dust, after someone accuses her of having been complicit in a murder. Not only that, but her husband goes to Syria to find a missing grad student at a dig in Syria. Charlotte is a human rights activist and Russ is an archaeologist. Not long after he arrives in the Middle East, he disappears too. Without that high level job, the one that suddenly became elusive – Charlotte has time to chase down her husband. Of course, in the meantime we’ve gotten caught up in her past, a highly adventurous past, which includes falling in love with a Nigerian artist during her year abroad at Oxford, and then a Sandinista commander in Nicaragua. The latter being the one she’s accused of having been involved in murdering. That’s all the plot I’ll reveal for now!
Some tips for coming up with ideas for your next novel:
- Read newspapers and magazines (my inspiration for writing Saving Phoebe Murrow came from a magazine and newspaper article) and keep a file with news clips that you can peruse when the ink runs dry.
- Eavesdrop on people in restaurants, on the subway, in an airport.
- Keep a story ideas folder on your computer’s desktop.
- Other people’s crazy messed up lives…juicy possibilities I’m sure.
- Check online about how to generate story ideas.
- Last but definitely not least, think about your own life, it’s rich with possibility. If only you’d done this or that; well, in a novel you can—or perhaps you can create an alternate reality or change the ending to an event that you wish had happened differently.