Listening to the world


I’ve written before about how taking a leaf out of Arthur’s book really helps me as a writer – seeing things around me through fresh eyes, finding new perspectives and stories in the everyday. This is especially true about the stage I’m at with my third novel at the moment. It’s just beginning, there are ideas and possibilities floating around all over the place, and it’s my job to be open to them, to gather them together so I can begin to weave them into a plot.

A huge swathe of inspiration is already inside my head. My main characters set up camp in there a while ago and, it seems, have been getting to know themselves and each other whilst I’ve been busy doing other things. The girl – I don’t know her name yet – spoke to me the other night. It was about two in the morning, and she said:

I knew it was wrong, even then. Of course when I say ‘wrong’ I mean ‘considered inappropriate’. But it all is when you’re a teenager, isn’t it? Everything you breathe or think or do. So that really didn’t help me calibrate my moral compass.

I’ve finally downloaded Evernote on to my phone so her words are safely stashed away on there. Along with a photo of a bench, and a growing collection of images which capture  Brixham forty years ago.

The girl popped into my head again as I was thinking about Sara’s prompt of Smoke. She led me to a longer piece of writing then, one which taught me a surprising amount about her (and him).

I think this might be a key part of my method this time round: just writing the scenes that come into my head, before I even work the ideas into a coherent plan. These scenes might make it into the finished story, or they might not – but I love the idea of listening a little bit more closely to what my characters have to offer before trying to pigeonhole them.

The other place I’m looking for inspiration is in the past. Much of the story unfolds in the late 1970s/early 1980s. I was born in 1978, but it’s not a period I know an awful lot about and I’m finding it fascinating discovering more. My primary reference point at the moment is Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s by Alwyn W. Turner, and even in the opening chapters I’ve already found some historical gems which sit perfectly alongside the story that’s beginning to emerge.

And then there’s my town. It’s actually really lovely to be mulling over a tale which belongs here after the first two novels which are very firmly rooted in London. It means that every stroll or errand or minute spent gazing out of the window becomes an integral part of my research. I’m planning to formalise that soon, reaching out to local people who might be able to add to what I know of Brixham – particularly its past.

But for now I’m very happy listening to the world, both inside and outside my head, and I can’t wait to see where else it takes me.


Muddled Manuscript

15 thoughts on “Listening to the world

  1. Mummy Tries

    This is a fantastic sounding story Sophie, and great method. Capturing scenes and pockets of inspiration is the only way I’d ever get a novel written! You’re so right though,looking at the world through the eyes of our kids can be pretty awesome 🙂 look forward to hearingmore lovelyxxx #whatimwriting

  2. Emily Organ

    What you describe here sounds like a really nice leisurely way to write a book. I think it’s so important to record those ideas when they occur as it’s easy to think you’ll remember them all and then you don’t. And refreshing to create scenes before linking them together into a plot, it took me a long time to realise I didn’t have to write in a linear fashion. Once I realised that, it became easier to write a story. Good luck with getting some more written down.

    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Thank you. I think when I come to the writing ‘proper’ I probably will have a more planned/linear approach. Although having said that a structure’s emerging which is a bit more fluid so who knows! I’m certainly enjoying this approach at the moment.

  3. maddy@writingbubble

    Sounds like a lovely way to write! It appeals to me not to plan things out too much but let the scenes come to me. It’s great that your characters are speaking to you so clearly and lovely that they are living in your town! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting xx

  4. Recycled Words (@Recycled_Words)

    I was born in ’82 and am a child of the 80’s but my first real cultural reference points don’t start until about 1990. For some reason I always feel as though I should know more about the decade I was born in, even though my participation at that stage was somewhat on the underwhelming side. It sounds as though this is a good way to discover more about the period into which you were born. I hope the writing process goes well for you.

  5. Pingback: Thirty | Sophie is…

  6. deskmonkeymummy

    This sounds like a great starting point. Your character sounds intriguing already. Can’t wait to see how she progresses (I’ve yet to read The Prompt for last week, so I’ll keep an eye out for yours.)
    Haven’t you just handed over your second manuscript? *impressed face*

    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Ah thank you. I have to move on to the next thing because otherwise I’ll just spend my whole time panicking about that manuscript… And this story’s been bubbling away for a while! x


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