I finished my fourth Seren Kitty book last week (originally called Cat Girl Sophie). They’re only early drafts. Even though the first three are on Smashwords – that’s mostly for ease of being able to get copies to Beta Readers.
Four is a nice number and I’m ready to let them sit for a few weeks, or more, so I can get the proper distance for editing. Or can afford to hire an editor.
I’m still a bit vague about how to write a compelling children’s book, even though I can definitely tell the great from the meh ones I borrow from the library.
So this morning it was time to sit down and start afresh. I have one manuscript half-started, for an 8-12 yo novel, but I don’t feel like going back to it yet. I also have the outlines of two dozen picture book/early reader stories, but that’s not right either.
Cue brainstorm time.
Seren Kitty was found in a brainstorm, and I find it’s a great way to discover characters. (I don’t invent them, as such, more flick through ideas and concepts until someone waves at me).
My stories always start with characters and much of writing is getting to know and understand that character. I’m not a planner, even if I’ve got better at sketching plot outlines before I get too stuck in.
I read once that, if your characters do something unexpected, it’s because you didn’t flesh out their backstory and personality fully. Oh dear. My characters are always misbehaving.
I don’t worry. Writing for me is more like online dating. You know quite a lot about the person you’re about to meet – you’ve read their profile and exchanged messages – but it’s only by spending time with them that you truly understand them. I met my online-dating husband nearly eleven years ago and I’m still discovering new things.
But, as with online dating, it starts with a spark. It starts with wanting to know more about a person. It starts with someone standing out from the crowd.
My latest character has a spark. More a roaring inferno, really, because she’s already causing trouble.
Most of the books I’ve read in recent months, aimed at the 7-10 market, are written in the third person, with varying degrees of internal monologue.
But that’s not good enough for Will (Willow), she wants to tell her own story. When she started chatting in my head, as I walked the dog, she wasn’t talking to another character, she was talking to me.
Now I don’t know what to do. I don’t like writing (or reading) first-person novels. Aside from Dragon Wraiths (written in the first-person present tense, by another bolshy character) I haven’t done it before. And Leah, in Dragon Wraiths, is a stroppy teen. Will is meant to be an adventurous nine-ish year old.
I like my own children being independent, strong-minded, feisty. Just not when I’m raising them. Similarly, I like characters that are alive in my mind, but not when they take over. Sigh. Time to go back to the drawing board.