Tag Archives: storyboards

Starting over

When I scored a book deal for Game as Ned, I couldn’t bring myself to start writing another story until I knew all the GAN edits and rewriting were done and dusted. I kept telling myself that if I started imagining up new characters, I might stop hearing the voices from GAN – a bit like when you’re driving in rural areas and one radio station starts to fade and another overlaps with the frequency. Then again, maybe I was just procrastinating.

Book 2 has now passed from my agent to HarperCollins Publishers Australia, who brought GAN into the world. All being well, I might hear from them in the next week or so as to if they like it enough to print.

Interestingly, I do feel ready to start another story, even though the status of Book 2 is still up in the air. I haven’t started hearing the voice of the main character yet, although I do have a strong sense of his identity and what makes him tick.

Starting a story is the fun bit. I have a beginning and ending in mind but still need to find a middle. I’m planning to storyboard this plot more than I have in the past … so I better stop here and get on with it.

Timelines, storyboards and read-throughs

There’s a bit of maths involved in writing a novel. But before all the wordsmiths out there freak out, that doesn’t mean you need to be a genius at arithmetic to make your story a success.

It does mean you need to do some fact checking before you submit your manuscript to a publisher.

So where does the maths come in?

1. Timelines – Whether your story takes place over a day or a week or a decade, you need to make sure all the hours add up. My current manuscript is based around a two-week holiday but only nine days are actually described. If I’d written about 18 days, I’d have been in trouble.

2. Ages and dates – You need to check your characters are the correct age at the correct time. In Game as Ned, I was caught out with a Vietnam War conscript fathering a child when he was barely old enough to a) be conscripted and b) be fertile. I’d checked all the dates and specified ages for conscription but forgotten to cross-check the age of the offspring at a fixed point in time. Whoops. To correct this, I had to turn my conscript into an enlisted soldier, enabling him to be a few years older.

3. Life experience and memories – Is your character old enough to have witnessed or even appreciated and understood the key events you refer to?

So, in polishing my current manuscript, I have done a specific read-through focusing purely on timing issues. Following this, I drew a timeline chart, checking the sequence of events in the narrator’s life to make sure I haven’t overcommitted his time.

It can also be useful when initially plotting your storyline, to put scene sketches on separate cards. You can then shuffle these around, movie storyboard-style, until you find the best sequence.

Planning pays! As does checking and double-checking your facts. OK, so the bird species you mention does frequent your designated setting. But is it likely to be present during the season you intend?