Saturday, 21 February 2015

Plot & Character Development, oh and a forgotten FIVE letter word…

Sorry does seem to be the hardest word…for some.

When Elton sang those words, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” I don’t think he would have anticipated just how rare the word would become in the English language. Why is it, when people do wrong and do get caught red handed, they don’t hold their hands up, admit it’s a fair cop and say that underused word – SORRY? Just pause for moment and think of all the recent wrongdoings – Hillsborough, Rotherham, expenses, tax avoidance, and NHS problems – wouldn’t the world be a better place if we just held our hands up and said sorry. It may not make everything right but it would be a start and it is NEVER too late to start.

It totally sickens me that instead of saying sorry, some people try to cover up THEIR mistakes with abuse and blaming the victim. Even worse though are those people who decide to share their wrongdoing by bringing innocent people into the situation, who in good faith believe the lies because the person is so convincing or they don’t know the victim. People can be very persuasive and manipulative when they want to be. However, lies can only be sustained for a short space of time and ultimately the truth comes out. I’ve brought the boys up to understand that making mistakes is perfectly okay and part of growing up. As human beings we learn from our mistakes – or at least the majority of us do. BUT a lie or cover up is far, far worse than the initial mistake.

I found this article a while ago that might explain why some people find it hard to say that five letter word. It is worth a read. I don’t know why people can’t admit they’re wrong? I admit if I get things wrong – the boys will testify to that. I’m not immune to making mistakes but I will say sorry, if it is warranted.

Do yourself and human nature a favour – stop lying, stop hurling abuse, admit your mistakes, say sorry and move on. Quite often an apology is enough. If not legal action will rectify the situation. It really is not hard to say sorry.

Plot and Character Development

In writing, the part I struggle with the most is … CHOOSING NAMES. Pretty ironic when both my boys are named from the movies. Wesley is named after the cheeky character in Moonlight Bay and Lucas George – well I’m sure you can guess who he is named after! Yes, the formidable George Lucas who shaped and massively influenced my obsession with space exploration. I still get goose bumps when I think of the day back in 2001 when I stood on the viewing platform at Kennedy Space Center. Sorry, mind wondered there a bit. Anyway, my nickname is also R2D2, apparently because I have no legs – I do have but short ones!

Anyhow, I struggle with character names at the first idea stage. When I have a new idea, I need to scribble it down as quickly as possible. Menieres has resulted in my memory not being what it used to be so it’s important not to interrupt my thought process with trying to think of names. So at this stage, the characters become man1, man2, woman1 – you get the gist. Once the whole idea is formulated and on paper, I can go back through and take out what doesn’t work, add in new ideas and details, and add character names. The names are so hard – one of the villains in Beyond the Lies was originally Jimmy Saxon but there was already a James in the storyline so he became Tommy because it sounded a rogue name – sorry if I’ve offended any innocent Tommy’s out there.

When selecting names, I try to match the name with the type of character I want them to evolve into or if I need a multi personality character, I choose a name like Catherine so it can take the form of Catherine, Cath, Cathy, Kate or Katie. I have no idea if any of this is making sense or ‘normal’ but by now you know I don’t do ‘normal’.

The character names may change again once the rough draft is completed. This is because I may decide that the character has evolved into someone they were not at the initial ‘naming’ stage so I will change it if it is not right. I am sure you are reading this thinking does she ever finish writing and editing – yes I do, only when I am happy with the outcome. I am not afraid to put my work through the mill, I didn’t with Beyond the Past and that is a lesson learned.

Plot development is part contrived and part as it pans out. With Beyond the Past I had no plan, nothing. I just simply wrote. However, I am a planner. I’ve been organised all my life especially in my former life as an Insurance Broker. I have a professional attitude to writing and want to take it forward and learn. I love to learn. So I have now developed a system of planning and developing an early plot. To be fair, the plot CAN, DOES and almost certainly WILL change during the course of the first draft.

Plots and ideas can come from anywhere. For example, the plot for one of my books developed from driving to school one afternoon. I had been in the house and heard the sirens and helicopters but it is quite a common occurrence where we live – I don’t think it’s any different to anywhere else these days. Anyway, when I drove to school, an alleyway was cordoned off by the Police. Apparently someone had been stabbed. That got me thinking, what would happen if your DNA somehow was found in that alleyway and you had no alibi. Hence the start of an idea. By the time I had travelled one mile I had the twist and turns of a plot in my head. This was the occasion when I wrote the idea on the back of a Tesco receipt – I have small handwriting thankfully. Now I keep a notebook with me at all times!

As you can see, ideas can come from anywhere and develop into a plot line. From there, the character names are devised and the first, very rough draft begins. I’m actually writing two drafts at the moment – ambitious but I love both storylines and they are very different. I am also editing Beyond the Lies and marketing Beyond the Past. Busy but happy.

This week, I am more focused than ever and eager to move forward with my plans. I have lots of letters to write, meetings to attend and in between them I will be continuing to write. If you have ever fancied writing, have a go. What do you have to lose?

Have a great and safe week. Be kind, thoughtful and look after yourself. Don’t forget I’m here to chat, just use the links below:



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