Hazel McHaffie

Back to work!

OK, festive break over, time to take stock of where I am with my current novel, Killing me Gently. Ahhah … into my mind flashes a very useful book about the art of writing fiction: Novel Writing: Sixteen Steps to Success I bought last year. No harm in revisiting the basics and making sure the foundations of my story are sound. And some plainish variegated knitting will help keep my mind focused and eyes wide open.

Novel Writing is a joy to read; full of sound practical sense. Furthermore, its author, Evan Marshall, is a literary agent with yards of experience and credentials, so it was a bit like having a mini masterclass. I’m soon scribbling lists to check I have all the key elements in place; suppositions, goals, motivations, conflict, surprises … everything that enhances readability, plausibility, appeal and marketability. Character profiles are polished to within an inch of their lives. Appropriate cues and connections and shocking surprises … they’ll need to be strategically placed once the timeline and sequence of events is more secure.  Sigh of relief; that little refresher has provided just the injection of fresh energy I needed to get back into my story.

This one’s a medical thriller about Anya Morgan, a new mum who’s struggling with the overwhelming responsibilities of a demanding offspring, and growing increasingly unsure about the motives and actions of the apparently well-meaning people around her. Who exactly is in control here? And just how safe is her baby, Gypsy? Who can she trust? … husband Leon? … sister Claire? …  professional friend Tiffany? … the hospital staff? Are they in cahoots to undermine her credibility? Can she even rely on her own sanity? The baby keeps deteriorating … Hmmmm. I’m wading in treacle already. But thoroughly back into writerly mode. Thanks, Mr Marshall. Second time around you’re even more helpful than when I first listened to your pearls of wisdom.

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