Today I did something I’ve dreamt of often but never actually managed to achieve before: I sat in a coffee shop and worked on my novel.
We were on our way back from Arthur’s drama class, and after dipping into a couple of charity shops in the ongoing hunt for bits and pieces for Christmas crafting I thought we were just going to head home. But then Arthur fell asleep. And all the thoughts about character and plot that have been swirling around over the past couple of weeks rose up in my mind, determined to be heard. And I thought really, given that we were just outside one of my favourite spots for coffee in Brixham which is due to close forever in its current incarnation at the end of this week, it’d be rude not to stop and listen.
Over the course of two steaming hot lattes I scribbled furiously in my notebook whilst Arthur dozed in the sling, blissfully unaware. And after a couple of weeks where I’ve done lots of reading and thinking but not very much writing I was thrilled to discover that there’s actually rather a lot I know about my novel.
I don’t want to give too much away yet, but the two main characters are definitely beginning to take shape. And the peripheral ones are padding out too. And the locations are becoming clearer. And the plot is beginning to make sense. There’s still a way to go, but I definitely know more than I thought.
What I’m not sure about yet is how it’s all going to be structured. I guess in a way that’s a decision that can wait, but there are some choices I will need to make before I start writing. Like whose voice we’re going to hear. I know the narrative needs to be split between the present and the past, but I’m not sure whether we want to see things from just one character’s perspective or whether another point of view will help to tell the story. I also know that time will not be linear in this novel. But the arc the narrative will follow is not yet clear.
I’m going to continue to read and think – and write too – as I continue to work all this out. The little bits of character exploration I’ve done so far – like this scene from the past and this letter from closer to the present – have been enormously helpful. I possibly need to start mapping things out a bit too, to begin to get a stronger sense of the bigger picture.
Because however much I know so far, there are certainly still an awful lot of pages in that notebook waiting to be filled…