I’m approximately 500 words away from completing the first draft of Lambs for Dinner. And now I wish I hadn’t written it so quickly. I had such a blast writing it!
What really spurred me on was Drew’s voice. I enjoyed writing from his POV, because to me, his voice was pretty distinct. So much so that I could hear him even as I go about my quotidian activities.
Advice from Greenhouse Literary Agency: How to Write the Breakout Novel
1. An inspired concept: Don’t start writing until you know you have a really, really great idea. Work out your pitch BEFORE you start writing.
2. Larger-than-life characters: A major tip is to get to know your principle characters and their backstories so well BEFORE YOU START TO WRITE that you don’t need to explain them, or invent them, as you go along. Rather, you are so well acquainted with these people from the get-go that you can let them reveal themselves as you drip forth in measured and varied ways their personalities and their pasts.
3. High stakes plots: WHAT DO YOUR CHARACTERS STAND TO WIN OR LOSE?
4. A deeply felt theme: There needs to be something DEEPLY FELT in your story that will stay with your reader after the last page is turned. Something that gives us a newly perceived truth about what it means to be human.
Here’s me checking off this list. I only just came across it today, and I read it with Lambs for Dinner in mind.
Lambs for Dinner was inspired by Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. After reading it, I knew I wanted to write a story where a character sees himself as the Steppenwolf, ‘a beast astray who finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is strange and incomprehensible to him’. In him is a duality of nature, Man and beast, both of whom are in constant enmity. The character cannot live with both of them caged within him. There are two groups of people he comes into contact with: one is attracted to the beast in him, his raw primal power; the other attracted to the Man, the one with the boundless capacity to fight for those he loves.
With this idea came Drew. I didn’t have to explain or spend too much effort illustrating him to the reader. I just let his voice do the work, along with his behaviour.
I tried to keep the writing tight this time. Looking back on Red December Skies, I realised I spent a lot of words on a single issue, spent too many words layering my writing. I don’t know if my writing seemed too cumbersome as a result, so I needed people to help me read it and tell me what they think.
So I tried to make every sentence and word count this time, for Lambs for Dinner. I tried to make them contribute to moving the plot forward, or revealing something about the character. And I tried to incorporate more action, less description. I figured the character’s voice was more important than waxing lyrical about the stars.
I’m actually starting to plan my next novel. It’s going to be an urban fantasy, involving water spirits and possession of bodies. And coupled with my recent reading diet, I had a dream – a nightmare, actually – last night, where my dad was possessed and completely changed into somebody else. He paid no attention to me, and was all dark and sinister, and my friend was about to warn me about him being possessed when she was mysteriously killed. When my Dad knew that I’d learnt of the truth, I had to run from him, along with a group of friends that my dad and other possessed people were trying to kill. Even magic circles didn’t help.
Yes, it was a complicated and surreal dream. I woke myself up, with hot tears flowing down the side of my face. In short, it was a nightmare.
But hey, who cares, when I’ve thought of the way to get started on my Shiny New Idea, eh?