I’ve blogged recently about the amount of stories and characters I have in my head. I have also blogged about my struggles with the final draft of my YA novel The Tree Of Rebels, and how I have been constantly distracted by voices from untold stories. In order to keep some of these voices at bay, so that I can finish each project I am on, I have been writing the odd short story for these characters. Has this worked? Well, yes and no! On the one hand, it does feel good to get something out, to relieve a little of the pressure. But on the other hand, it seems that if I allow these people an inch, they will take a mile, and start shouting even louder.
Anyway, I am making great progress with the final draft of The Tree Of Rebels. I am probably only days away from finishing it. I might have mentioned before that I decided to try changing the tense, to see if that worked, and although I can’t be sure until I read through it all, I think it has! So, the plan is, I finish the draft then re-read the whole thing, checking a final time for errors, typos and so on. Then it will be done! What comes next? Well, I do feel I ought to finish my rough plot for the sequel, as it might be a good idea to not let there be too big a gap between the two books, but this won’t take me long. I will then jump into the second draft of my novel Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature. As you might recall, Elliot Pie was a queue jumper! Jumping neatly ahead of the planned sequels to The Tree Of Rebels and The Mess Of Me! He was too insistent to ignore, so he finally got his story told. Once I have done the second draft I will send it to my wonderful beta readers, as I will need feedback on the structure of the novel, as it is a little bit different. What will I do whilst they are reading this?
Ooh, I’m glad you asked! Well, I recently wrote two short stories for a character that was getting impatient. Bill Robinson is one of the characters in a gritty teen drama I first wrote when I was sixteen years old. I never finished the book, and it had always been one I knew I would go back to at some point! Much in the same way I finally finished The Boy With The Thorn In His Side in 2013, after first writing it when I was twelve! Nightprowler and Bird People are both available to read on Wattpad if you are interested. Nightprowler is really a prequel to the novel, an event that happens before it all begins, and Bird People is really a snapshot into the mind and character of Bill.
Anyway, the point of this blog post is untold stories, and how exciting it is once you finally get the chance to tell them. Maya Angelou was quoted as saying that ‘there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,’ and I think most writers would agree that this is very true. It does become an agony. The desire to write and share, and the noise created by the characters and their lives, can reach unbearable levels if something is not at last released.
With this in mind I went hunting yesterday, and dragged the old suitcase out from under my bed. This suitcase is very important to me because it contains all my old stories, school work, essays and ideas. Luckily for me, I have never thrown anything away. And thank goodness too, because I found what I was looking for, and what a joyous moment that was. This great big hulking binder full of Bill’s story. It didn’t have a title back then, but the working title will now be A Song For Bill Robinson. Everything was right there. A plot (and how exciting to see that I used to plot at age sixteen, the same way I do no! ie a scruffy notepad filled with ideas with ticks on top of them!) character bios, and a whole load of notes and extra bits paper clipped together. More excitingly there is also a map! I used to draw maps of the fictional worlds I created to help me when moving the characters about. There is even a play list of songs, as one of the main plot lines involves Bill entering talent contests in his local community centre as a singer. He hooks up with some other people who play instruments, and the play list was a rough idea of some of the music they might play together.
How exciting! What a find…I knew I still had the unfinished handwritten manuscript, but I had completely forgotten about all the extra bits! I wanted to go back in time and pat my sixteen year old self on the back! Job well done! I can use all this! This is going to be brilliant! I was also impressed to find scraps of paper where I had written things like ‘by chapter 7 we know that Charlie is hiding something, and we know about some of it. We have suspicions of Laura’s private life, some from what she tells us and some from Bill’s own suspicions.’ Ha ha! Nice to know I had a good handle on the whole show not tell thing back then!
I can’t tell you how happy this discovery made me yesterday. This story still has to wait for me to get around to it, but in the meantime it is going to continue to grow and swell and evolve inside my head. I already know lots more about the characters than I did back then. There have been lots of nice, little details striking me lately.