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  • Writer's picturePortland Jones

Author life - checking you can actually say that

My next novel, The Dollmaker’s Story, is coming along nicely. I have the plot worked out, at least to a certain extent. I’m not a plotter in the fullest sense of the word but I have a written guideline to where my story is going. I don’t plan each scene, but I do record before I start what I want to include somewhere in the writing.

When I am writing I can see in my head what is happening. I know my characters and how they would behave in any given circumstance. And when you know all that, it is easy to describe what you are seeing.

The thing I have to remember is that readers don’t have the benefit of the insider knowledge that the author has. What is perfectly obvious to me may not be in the least bit obvious to the reader. Yesterday I ran head first into exactly this situation.

The main character in my work in progress is the middle-aged dollmaker Tom. Fifteen year old Megan and thirteen year old Ethan turn up at his door asking if they can stay overnight. Their estranged dad who they don’t get on with is on the scene and they don’t want to be at their place while he is there. Tom asks their mum if this is OK and she says yes.

Now, Tom lives in a small cottage – one tiny room downstairs and one bedroom upstairs. I have the youngsters put their blankets and pillows on the floor in the bedroom. This seems a good solution. I know that Tom is a lovely, gentle man and it would be absolutely in his nature to offer them refuge and there is no scenario where they would be at risk from him.

However, I gave some thought as to how this might look from a reader’s perspective, without their intimate knowledge of Tom, which is unfolding as the story moves along. Would it seem strange for the youngsters to sleep in the same bedroom? Quite possibly.

I resolved this issue by making Tom worn out from his day’s work to the extent that he fell asleep in the armchair. Megan covered him with a blanket to indicate that he would spend the night there, while she and her brother slept upstairs in the bedroom.

Just another thing to keep in mind when working out your story.

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