This novel, like the first three, is set partly in the past, and so I have to work out a way of finding my way into that story from the present. After thinking hard enough to make my eyes bleed and my brain explode, and even after chatting with my lovely editor, I still don't have an answer. the only reason I'm not physically tearing my hair out as we speak is that this is exactly how I felt with book three (What She Lost, due out in January) and I did eventually find a way through.
So, there's not much to say about the situation at the moment except that I'm horribly stuck and I'm hoping I'll become unstuck soon. I'm off on a writing retreat this weekend, so will be focusing entirely on the novel and trying not to spend the whole week gazing out of the window and chewing my pen. I'll let you know how it goes!
In the meantime, I thought you might like to see a pieceI wrote on the art of the dual narrative just after my first novel was published. I wrote this as a guest post on Isabel Costello's blog, and had a great response from people who told me how helpful it was. I returned to it this week in the hope that it would help me find a way through my current impasse – it didn't!
But who knows, it might be useful to someone reading this blog, so here it is, exactly as it appeared on Isabel's blog in 2013:
I’ve always enjoyed reading dual narratives, possibly because I’m greedy – it’s a way of feeling like you’re reading two books at once. So I knew when I started The Things We Never Saidthat I wanted to interweave two stories, gradually revealing the link between them.
- Write each narrative separately first.
- Introduce both narratives quickly so that readers know they’ll be moving between the two.
- Keep chapters short.
- Look for clashes first, not connections.
- Don’t be wedded to your original chapters – look at scenes and shuffle things around if necessary.
- Make sure voices are distinctive and different – the voice should come from the heart of the character.
- Orientate the reader quickly the start of each new section.
- Be prepared to have several goes at getting the order right – you’ll get there in the end!