Writing a book part 19: final research, and making progress

Next week, I am visiting Jerez as part of my research for the novel. There are three chapters set in Jerez, throughout various moments over the last hundred years. The main purpose of the trip is to take some pictures and get a feel for the atmosphere of the place. So it's a shame that the forecast is for solid rain. Good job that a glass of fino is like liquified sunshine.

In the meantime, I have been getting on with part two of the book, and progress has been reasonably good. At the moment, it seems that as my experience of writing this book increases, my understanding of it develops - as does my enjoyment in writing it. When I started writing it just over a year ago, I remember thinking that I didn't know enough about the characters, and that I should have done more about that before starting. 

However, I've found that the most comprehensive way to flesh out a character is to start writing and allow them to evolve through the narrative. That might require a review of earlier sections to ensure that characterisation is consistent throughout, but I had always expected to need to re-read and re-write several times anyway.

On the other hand, I have tried to avoid letting the plot change. As I've been writing, loads of opportunities to embellish and alter the plot have arisen - many of which felt like good developments. Yet they would also have made it increasingly complicated, and potentially diluted the original intention and themes I wanted to write about. 

In fact, the plot in the second half of the book is more fast-paced than in the first half, so it has been more gratifying - and perhaps slightly easier - to write the most recent chapters, because they are more about reaction to the build-up that happens throughout part one of the book.

Hopefully, this will avoid the phenomenon of 'mid-book lull' - where the pace of a book becomes slow and boring about half-way through - and which is about as enjoyable as getting rain in Jerez.

Richard Hemming1 Comment