I am just about three-quarters of the way through the first draft of my next book… I thought it was going to be called ‘The Last House’ or ‘The Last House’, but now I feel as if it might be something like ‘The Lost Child’… There are several strands of story-line in this novel, the flowers left on the grave of a Danish war hero, the man who seems so involved with a mysterious Lama who seems to have increasing power over him, a missing father, a missing fortune, and a woman who left her home and family and ended up married to a dangerous gangster… and who wants to escape his clutches.
Because there are these different strands, I don’t want them all to finish at the same time at the end of the book, so I am phasing in endings for each of these story-lines. The mystery of who leaves the flowers on the grave has been solved, the Lama is about to be exposed, and the escape of the woman from her dangerous husband is being planned. The father who has gone missing… well, his disappearance is being explained but I am working out which ending for this strand would be most satisfactory for the reader… I have several possible endings for this particular thread.
However, although I know how the Lama has the hold over his followers, I am not quite sure how to reveal it – should there be a showdown, and if so who should be involved? Should it be an explanation, with those involved left to sort out their lives away from the text, and left to the readers’ own thoughts? I am thinking that a confrontation, possibly with some comic aspects would be more interesting and more involving, and different from other episodes in the novel…
Because I am mulling this over and trying to figure it out my writing has slowed, and I’m not getting very many words down. Writers who plan their work before they even start telling their stories wouldn’t be in this slight pickle that I’m in. However, I can’t work like that; I can’t plan out the story lines with charts and spider-diagrams, and lines of different colours following the different characters and plot-lines. I don’t have a stack of filing cards all in order, or box files full of notes and research… Most of my plotting and planning goes on in my head, and comes out on paper; only when I have a lot of words can i start pushing and pulling the different parts to make them fit. I may have to go back and unpick stuff, I may have to hack great chunks and delete whole paragraphs and pages, but that is the way I work.
So… back to tying up the loose ends, and hoping nothing unravels while I’m doing it!