Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Logical but not Obvious

The plot line in your novel should be logical, but not always obvious. For example, in my novel, King’s Priory, I needed to kill off a young wartime WAAF called Peggy Higgins. Logic told me it should happen in the London Blitz. But not in an obvious way.
When the raid begins Peggy and her mum are hiding in a cellar. Both are frightened as I build up the tension. Bombs land nearby and the tension increases. The house next door takes a direct hit.
More tension.
The house above Peggy and her mum begins to crumble.
More tension.
Can Peggy survive the raid?
The reader is left to wonder what will happen next. Then… yes, Peggy can survive. The next morning she and her mum crawl from the rubble. The tension eases. Peggy meets her dad, an ARP warden. He has survived the night.
The tension eases further.
Peggy is told to go to her aunt’s house and make a cup of tea. Relief all round. But I am playing games with the reader. As Peggy enters her aunt’s house she triggers an unexploded bomb…!
I got the outcome I wanted, but I engineered it in a way that wasn’t obvious, a way that was designed to catch the reader unawares.


Monday, 12 May 2014

Someone asked how we decide on names for the characters in our novels. This is Oliver, my younger grandson. In my latest novel (not quite complete) Oliver is the name of a pilot. My elder grandson - four this year - is called Henry. Henry is also the name of a pilot in one of my American stories. Henry's father is called Douglas Niall. Dougie Nyle is the name of the co-pilot in my thriller novel, Prestwick. So, what's the problem? Names are all around us.