It has been said that I have the directional capabilities of a dead wombat, my rudimentary map reading skills have gotten me and various travelling companions lost on many occasions. It could possibility be claimed that our SatNav prevented a messy divorce, and now days my hubby asks if I mean my left or his left when it comes to taking the next turn. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that I’ve been known to take the odd wrong turn when I’m writing. Sometimes it’s starting the wrong place, or incorrectly estimating the length of the journey, or even having to scrap the travel plans altogether and start again.
I thought I’d share a few of my adventures, especially in light of what is going on with my current project. This WIP is a contemporary novella set in Switzerland and it was meant to be submitted on the 1st Dec – that didn’t happen. I’d been blocked, the story grinding to a halt, and then I suddenly had a flash of realisation that I’d started it in the wrong place! We’re up and running again and like a few of my other mis-directions below I think it’s going to work out just fine.
I thought the journey was over, but when I started the next leg I realised I’d been going the wrong way
My first published novel, Servitude, is a high fantasy adventure that took over seven years to write. This ridiculous length of time is from having three complete rewrites, the most painful of which saw me shelving 120K words and starting again. I thought the book was done, ready to send out into the world, but then I started writing the sequel and I realised my main character’s personality was completely wrong, and there was no way I could keep him as he was originally written and have the rest of the series pan out as it was supposed to. So I started again and Lornyc Reagalos was reborn into the stubborn, sassy bastard that he needed to be. I have to say I love the new version – he is still one of my favourite characters. But, boy, that decision hurt!
It was meant to be a quick pop to the local shops and I end up half way around the world
Back in 2011 I had an idea for a quick and easy novella. A bit of fun which would get an idea out of my head and let me get back to writing something else I had planned. The idea was to write say 25K words about a young Elizabethan actor managing to bluff his way through pretending to be his twin sister to fool a noble. Yeah, well, that didn’t quite end up like that… so instead of one short novella The Actor and the Earl happened, and the Crofton universe was born. Currently there are 3 novels from Sebastian Hewel’s, the actor, point of view (The Crofton Chronicles) and a modern and spinoff – oh and a whole new side series is in the works where we’ll explore the Redbourn family through the eyes of four of the earls through history.
I’d read the map wrong… I was only one quarter of the way there
I wrote a short story call The Artichoke Avenger and Sprout Boy and submitted to an anthology (I can’t even remember the particular anthology), but it didn’t make the cut. But I got feedback saying they liked the idea and wanted me to consider revising and making it longer. A bit of head scratching and wondering what else to do, I ended up adding 3 more parts and the novella Life in the Land, where my hero has the super power of being able to manipulate plans, emerged.
I guess I’m saying, that while I usually like to know where I’m going, and consider myself a plotter when it comes to working out where the book should be going, it is not the time to panic when a journey doesn’t go to plan. In fact, in some cases it is the best thing that can happen to the story. Some punches are meant to be rolled with.
REBECCA COHEN is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.