Plotting After Powder Burn – Part 1

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or a follower on twitter or Facebook, then you can’t fail to have noticed that I’ve just published a new book. It’s called The Fulcrum Files and the writing of it was the subject of my last blog. But I wouldn’t be a real writer if I didn’t already have the next one on the go. I’ve already added a page to my website for Powder Burn, which I’m hoping to finish for January next year.

And so it’s time, believe it or not, to start thinking about ideas for novel number five. I’ve decided to go for a series this time, kicking off with a sequel to Powder Burn. The main reason for this is that I just love the main character in this book, an American girl called Sam Blackett; here’s a little bit of Powder Burn that will give you a feel for her character:

She looked back down to the screen and the single email in her inbox. She’d sent out twenty-five more query letters to different newspaper and magazine editors just after she’d arrived in the city. All with ideas for travel stories. Score to date: zip for fourteen - all rejections. And the single email that glared back at her this morning? From her mother. Two months in India, nearly a month now in the Himalayas and only one story sold: to the Vermont Gazette, where her mother job-shared as office manager with Penelope-from-across-the-road. And she’d told this guy and his two mates that if they let her come with them, she would write up their expedition for Adventure magazine. She hadn’t thought they were serious. She had about as much chance of placing a story with Adventure as she did of winning a Pulitzer. Still, he wasn’t to know that. She glanced up, and caught Pete’s gaze for a moment...

In Powder Burn, Sam starts out as a spectacularly unsuccessful freelance journalist, gets herself into a whole world of trouble, somehow gets out of it intact - and with a helluva story to tell. It’s the break she needs for her writing career, and the idea of the series is that we follow her through various adventures and scrapes in pursuit of the next story.

The $64 million dollar question is... what story is next?

Like many writers I keep an ideas folder on my computer, and unlike most writers mine’s stuffed full of badly written paragraphs about a news item, or the thesis of a book, or just a couple of lines from a non-fiction account of something that interested me. This is where stories come from, or at least, it’s where my stories come from.

So I thought I’d spend the next few blogs working through some of those ideas, testing them out as stories and seeing where they might go. I’ve got a few months, probably seven or eight before I get Powder Burn finished, so there’s no rush. If I do one a month, by the time I get around to starting writing I should have plenty of ideas, and with a bit of luck some idea of what potential readers think of them. First up... and I’ll be back in a month!