An interesting, and quite unexpected, thing happened in my writing life recently. I had always thought that when I got around to my first (really very serious) writing project it would either be historical fiction based in fifteenth century England and/or France or, a high fantasy epic. However, as I was putting together some ideas for the online How to Write a Novel course run by the Unthank School of Writing in Norwich, this plan got completely turned on its head.
Suddenly I was thinking about theft and prostitution in late Victorian England and of a protagonist struggling with abandonment issues and a villain called Septimus Brand. I was looking for street maps from the 1890s and getting to grips with the criminal slang known as the Flash. My night time reading jumped forward four centuries to include contemporary fiction by Charles Dickens and George Gissing and, for period detail and accuracy, the London biographies of Peter Ackroyd and Liza Picard.
The more I read and thought about the characters the more compelled I felt to write their story. Now, after six weeks the plot is outlined and I’m working through the character biographies, both things I have learned the value of on the course. I cannot believe I was so disorganised before. There are still questions to be answered and problems to be worked through but there’s also a definite feeling of progress. Every day I get up and wonder where my writing journey will take me next.
It’s a good feeling.