by G.M. Malliet
I am at the part of the writing process I call "Settling in."
I'm at the very beginning of my tale, and really I'm just noodling about on scraps of paper with character names and place names and a very rough idea for a setting and a plot. I'm drawing maps and schematics and, most of all, just trying to get a feel for the story--waiting for that feeling of contentment to arrive, a feeling that is hard to put into words. I only know that when it's there, I'm on the right track. There's an atmosphere that feels right, and that, I hope, will translate into making the reader happy.
The Washington Post used a quote from William Butler Yeats just the other day that nicely describes this:"Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams, Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round."
I suppose I'm aiming to surround the reader in a cozy atmosphere--a restful feeling, much like that created by the photo illustrating this blog.
There is a selfish motive behind all this conjuring effort. (This effort that looks suspiciously like procrastination but is, I've come to realize, integral to the whole crazy business of writing a book.) Apart from trying to make the reader happy, I know I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the coming year with my head inside my story, and I want that place, whatever it is, to be a good place to go. A fun place that I can't wait to visit each day. If I can visualize this place in my mind - the house or village or castle or whatever it is - and clearly bring up its colors, sights, and smells, then I know the story will at least keep me entertained for the long haul.
The characters come as the "real" writing begins: I only know that I first have to set the stage for them to appear.
And as Cricket pointed out the other day, the weather and time of year are integral to the story. That, in my case, also has to be decided before the characters can take the stage.
Question for the scribes: Do you plunge in and see what develops, or do you set the stage first?
Image of The Lee, Buckinghamshire copyright Aurelien Hayman - from the comprehensive and full-of-eye-candy-for-the-Anglophile Midsomer Murders Site.