Having built up to the monumental arrival of that first scene – the signal to begin actually writing the novel – I should probably explain that this moment isn’t always a perfect creative epiphany.
OK, sometimes it is: I wrote the prologue for Guardians of Paradise longhand in one frantic splurge, in the waiting room of Wolverhampton station; it arrived in my head wholesale while I was on my way back from my first book signing. The text has survived almost unchanged into the final version of the novel (which I am, incidentally, in the process of checking the proofs for, thus giving me another excuse to escape from writing the first draft of Bringer of Light). I fondly remember the way I came to write that prologue; it’s one of those marvellous experiences that non-writers probably think writers have all the time. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Getting started on Bringer of Light was more painful, and involved lots of plot walks, several pages of scribbled then largely discarded notes and a couple of false starts. About a third of the way into writing the actual novel I realised that what I had labelled ‘Chapter One’ when I wrote it was not, in fact, the start of the novel: I currently think it needs to open with a prologue which I had, in my desire to keep this multi-strand novel to a fixed structure, originally called ‘Chapter Three’. Of course, I might still change my mind about that. One thing I do know is that I’m not happy with the opening as written.
However hard or easy it is to write, that first scene is the signal to start focusing on details. Obviously I’ll still be adding high-level stuff to the online files I was talking about last time, and making offline notes at random and unpredictable moments (much to the bemusement of friends and passersby), but now we’re into the nitty-gritty. Now the process gets linear … or does it?
Next time: the conclusion. Probably.