A Novel Idea

My recently finished manuscript is finally with my agent and publisher. Here is a brief blurb.

When Brisbane lawyer, Clare Mitchell, becomes the unlikely carer of Jack, a little autistic boy, her life is turned upside down. In desperation she turns her back on her job, and takes Jack to Bundara, her grandfather’s Clydesdale stud at Merriang, in the foothills of the beautiful Bunya Mountains. She arrives to find part of the property leased by local vet, Tom Lord, an advocate of equine therapy for traumatised children.  Jack falls in love with Bundara’s animals, and Clare falls in love with Tom and the life of a country vet. But trouble is coming, trouble that threatens to not only destroy Clare’s new-found happiness, but the tiny town of Merriang itself.

My new novel is due out with Penguin in July next year, and I’m pleased to report that it has been well received by Belinda Byrne, my publisher. So while I wait for the inevitable grind of edits to begin, it’s time to plan my next novel. Some people seem to have multiple narratives swirling around in their minds at any given time. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. It can take a long time for me to plot a new story. There are many ways to come up with fresh ideas.

The High-Concept Approach. This is a movie term, that works something like this. Pick a tried and true scenario and tweak it a little, or a lot, and/or combine two together. My friend and publishing buddy, Kathryn Ledson, used this concept to successfully write, and then sell her Erica Jewell series to Penguin (The first book, Rough Diamond, will be out with Penguin in January) It’s a cross between Bridget Jones and Indiana Jones.

Read  Read everything you can, in and out of your chosen genre, fiction and non-fiction. Allow another imagination to cross-fertilise your own. There’s much truth in the old adage, show me a writer that’s not reading, and I’ll show you a writer that’s not writing.

Look Around You  Keep a keen eye on what topics are in the news.  What are your friends talking about? What concerns keep you awake at night? Eavesdropping is also a useful skill for writers. Listen in when other people talk. Mobile phone conversations on trains are good for this. Don’t let them annoy you – let them inspire you.

Hang out in bookstores. This is critical. Pay close attention to those New Releases. Get to know what’s new and hot in your area. Find out what’s selling, and to which publishers. Remember that you need an idea that other people (not just you!) can get excited about.

As I said last week, I have a vague idea for the new novel. My task for October is to develop a rough plan, with themes and characters that will sustain me over the next twelve months of writing.

9 thoughts on “A Novel Idea

  1. Oops, my last comment got sent before I was ready! Was going to say I love the sound of Firewater, and as I have an autistic son I’ll be interested to read it )I’m guessing it will be emotional!)

  2. Oh my – our little boy Jack has recently been diagnosed with high functioning autism. I knew when I read the title of your novel a few months ago that it struck a chord with me somewhere. I look forward to reading it. Autism has certainly had us on a very steep learning curve. Cheers Gabi

  3. Great advice, Jenny. Now I also have to find your impressive discipline within myself – not to mention tap into a well-spring of ideas and inspiration! Write and ride like the wind, Changeling.

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