My Novel: How Far Have I Come?

I suppose it’s important to state whereabouts I am with my novel, isn’t it? If I get it down in words it sort of cements the whole idea a little more. The thing is, I would share the storyline, the characters, the setting and plot twists, but I’m scared of that one thing that every writer fears: plagiarism.

Without going into too much detail I can say this: My novel (working title, Haunt) is a story about a young man with a lot of problems who has escaped the tenuous connections to his past life in order to start a new one. The thing is, he ends up getting much more than he bargained for.

The story is inspired by my own fascination and infatuation with ghosts, an infatuation I’ve had since I was a little boy. A few years ago I became very involved in spiritualism and took part in some ghost hunts and saw some very spooky goings-on. Unfortunately I no longer attend the spirit circle or see the wonderful lady who used to run it, but the whole thing is very close to my heart whenever I’m putting my words onto paper.

The story is also inspired by my Mum, who I adore. In the past I’ve written some (terrible) stories that were mostly fantasy-based or action-type tales with little in the way of plot or dialogue. My Mum wouldn’t have enjoyed these novels, and she wouldn’t have known what to make of them or how to comment on them. As I stated in my earlier post, however, she does enjoy crime novels – especially a good murder mystery. So I came to the conclusion that I could marry the two together: The dark, sinister and enigmatic world of ghosts and the supernatural and the gritty reality of serial killers and their motivations.

When I write I’m trying to channel Stephen King and see the story through his eyes. If he read it would he enjoy it? Would he find it scary? Would the characters leap out of the page at him? Would he see the obvious ways that he has so deeply changed and affected the way I write? Maybe. I might find out one day.

So, anyway, I got a little distracted and went off on a tangent there. The point of this entry is: Where am I?

I’ve written roughly 40,000 words so far. I’m aware that the bare minimum a novel length must be before it is declared a novel is 50,000 words, but I’m not worried about reaching that target. In fact, I’m more worried about making the novel a compact and digestible length.

I’ve employed some help in writing the novel by reading books about psychic development and spirituality, and also by contacting professionals like a member of the Augusta Sheriff’s Office in the county of Maine in America. Why would I go there when I live in England? Well, because that’s where my novel is set. And why is it set there? Well, those of you who know much about Stephen King won’t need to ask that question (he lives there and sets many of his stories there). It’s one of my little nods to his influence.

A friend of mine is also helping. She has a psychology degree and an avid (almost morbid) fascination with serial killers. Thanks to her I’ve managed to come up with a killer in my novel that is simultaneously unique and enthralling whilst also being, to a degree, very believable.

I write most evenings, when the sun is setting and the flat is quiet (my boyfriend is usually off doing something else). I set up my computer, open Microsoft Word and let the story just pour out of me. Of course, sometimes it’s not always easy like that. Sometimes I see that little cursor blinking at me, begging me to write something and yet I just cannot fulfill its needs. The words are stuck behind a wall in my mind and they just cannot break out. I suppose that’s kind of how I’m feeling tonight.

That’s another reason for this blog, actually. Here I can talk about my frustrations with writing and how, although it is my favourite thing to do and what I spend most of my time thinking about, it can also be a very cruel mistress. I’m hoping that by opening up and thinking about it some more it might break that invisible wall in my mind and the words will start tumbling out again. I’m going to go and give it a try now, see how I get on.

Either that or the alternative: Get a bit of studying done! I’m currently reading a book called A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof by a talented writer called Roger Clarke, who has pieced together facts and recorded details of past hauntings and turned them into something of a story in its own right. In fact, I’ll leave you tonight with the front cover of the book, which – aside from being the only reason I bought it to begin with – has also inspired (what I hope is) a very scary scene in my novel.

Goodnight.

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