Guest post: What was Virginia’s writing process in writing Wishbones?
I have a similar process for all the novels I write.
First, I’m inspired by a strong contemporary issue, one which affects everyday people, especially families. I thought it would be interesting to explore the problem of obesity through the eyes of a teenager caring for her mother – which, of course, raises another contemporary issue: the role reversal of the child carer which, sadly, is much more common than we realise.
Then I think of a character who I feel could carry the story and charm my readers: someone real and flawed but also someone who we can admire and whose company we’d like to share for three hundred pages. The character’s voice is very important to me so I work on that and I spend some time getting to know my character, like I would a real person: I ask her lots of questions like what her shoe size is and what she eats for breakfast and, if she had one wish, what it would be…
When I feel that I have a strong character, the next step is to plan a powerful opening scene which will plunge the reader right into the heart of my story: I never start writing a novel until I have a strong opening scene as I see this as a catalyst for the whole novel. And, of course, I want my readers to be gripped from page one. This is how the idea of Feather’s mother collapsing on New Year’s Eve came about.
I then think hard about where the novel is going to end. This isn’t as set in stone as the opening because I think it’s important to leave my imagination – and my characters – a bit of room for improvisation and flexibility, but, as I write, I do keep coming back to the question of where the story ends so that my story keeps a strong sense of focus and direction.
I don’t plan my whole novel in advance but I do plan each scene before I write it. Which is why I’m both a notebook and a laptop girl. In my much-loved Leuchtturm notebooks, I draw colourful mind maps of each scene (I like to think of my chapters a scenes, like in a film) and then I write the scenes up on my computer. I find that planning the scene ahead – rather than writing cold – makes my writing stronger and ensures that I stay focused on what really matters to the story and the characters.
I write the first draft quite fast and then do lots and lots of editing. I need to feel the momentum of the story while I’m writing it to ensure that my readers feel that pace too. I can’t imagine spending years and years writing a novel – I think I’d get lost and that the story would lose its energy.
Oh, and then I edit some more.
And some more.
A huge thank you to Virginia and to Sahina at HQ.
Click here to get hold of your copy of Wishbones.
Feather Tucker has two wishes:
1)To get her mum healthy again
2) To win the Junior UK swimming championships
When Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother – one of Britain’s most obese women- in a diabetic coma, she realises something has to be done to save her mum’s life. But when her Mum refuses to co-operate Feather realises that the problems run deeper than just her mum’s unhealthy appetite.
Over time, Feather’s mission to help her Mum becomes an investigation. With the help of friends old and new, and the hindrance of runaway pet goat Houdini, Feather’s starting to uncover when her mum’s life began to spiral out of control and why. But can Feather fix it in time for her mum to watch her swim to victory? And can she save her family for good