Project Hush-Hush – Getting The Right Tone

SecretWell now, since the last blog entry (only a few days ago) I’ve completed chapter two of The Forgotten Son. And I’m really feeling like I’ve got the flow of the story down now. It’s always difficult with the first chapter, trying to capture the right tone, pace, mood, and find the right starting points for your characters. In this case, as I’m sure I keep on saying, I have the added difficulty of finding the right period. This is why it took so much longer to finalise chapter one, and only took two days to write chapter two. Not only have I found the flow in chapter two, but I can really feel the characters coming alive, especially the lead character (this book has more than one lead, but I’m talking about the lead character of the series — whom I cannot mention by name at this time) who is a character I have known for a couple of decades plus some change. Finding his voice should be simplicity itself — but there is an added challenge. Of course.

One of the main selling points of this series is that we’re exploring a part of the lead character’s life that has never really been touched upon before. There have been the odd hints here and there, but nothing substantial. Everything ever written about him (and there is plenty!) has always focused on an older version of him. But we’re dealing with him at the start of the adventure, looking at what turned him into the character we’ve all come to love over the years. And therein lies the challenge. One that, according to my publisher, I’m succeeding at. Shaun has read the prologue and first chapter and feels I have totally captured the younger version of this lead character, which is great to hear since I have found writing for him so very easy. The trick now is to keep it up.

The tone also meets the approval of my publisher. He used words like ‘brilliant’ and ‘love what you’ve done’. There is another phrase he said, but I can’t really quote it or it may give away a little too much of the project. Needless to say, my publisher believes I’m achieving exactly what he was hoping we’d achieve when we set out to do this. I’m confident that the other writers of the first ‘season’ will equally capture the feel we’re going for. I’m looking forward to hearing my publisher’s thoughts on chapter two (which I feel is superior to chapter one), and seeing what the other writers do. We’re currently bouncing titles around, and have probably settled on three of the four. Titles are so important — they tell the reader what kind of book it is, what kind of theme and tone of story they’re about to read, plus, in this case, it’s about recreating the period in which our series is set.  The kind of titles you see on books and television these days are not necessarily applicable to fiction circa 1969/1970. But, once again, I am confident we will have the perfect four titles by time we officially announce the series. Another thing we’re also thinking about at the moment, which fits in with the tone and period, is the cover art. We know the style we’re looking for, so all we need do now is find the right kind of artist to match that style, which also feeds into designing the series logo (which if done correctly will be kind of clever and should contain a nice in-joke for those who know).

Any excuse to show y Draig Goch, the Welsh dragon!
Any excuse to show y Draig Goch, the Welsh dragon!

Chapter two also contains my favourite little scenes of all I’ve ever written. It’s a small thing, a scene within a scene if you like, and only lasts for about half a page, but it had me laughing so hard when I was writing it — which means it may be one of the first things to go! KILL YOUR BABIES! No, no it won’t. It’s important, although high on cliché, but that can’t be helped since it’s another character that came with the exclusive rights we now own a license for, and that character is every bit the walking cliché. Which is fun. I don’t generally use clichés in my work — indeed, all writers know to avoid them like the plague. But when you’re using a character that was created as a cliché (although I wonder if it was such a cliché in 1969, or simply a misconception thing?) you can go one of two ways. Either ignore the cliché aspects, or play up to them initially and slightly move away from them over time — if you have the luxury of such time. Fortunately I do, since a character arc has already been put in place for this character and it will enable us to gradually move him from the Welsh cliché (oh yes, I forgot to mention that, it’s a typically clichéd Welsh character and so even more important for me to move him away from those roots) and turn him into a more well-rounded and believable person. Which in itself will be fun and rewarding, but for now, for that one small cameo scene in The Forgotten Son I go to play with the cliché and totally embrace it. Which was kind of liberating.

And so, chapter three is waiting. More strange happenings in the west country, as the child’s voice gets louder…

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