First drafts and the Millfield Morrissey. (What I’ve been up to recently.)

It’s been a while since my last blog, I’ve been a busy man.

Since Troll Life was published in October, I’ve been focussing on my fifth novel. Normally I would have it all planned out in the break between first draft and editing of my previous one but that hasn’t been the case this time around.

I began plotting in November  and spent a little more time ensuring that the stakes were high enough for each character and each scene or chapter finished on a cliff hanger. A lesson I learned from Troll Life and hopefully there won’t be as much rewriting this time around.

I ran my synopsis by a couple of trusted writing friends and after a couple of changes, I began writing at the beginning of January.

The planning paid off and apart from a couple of lulls in the middle, and a break for a weekend away in The Lakes, I stormed through it and finished the first draft before the end of February.

The temptation is to start editing straight away but I’ve learned to leave the first draft alone for at least a month to give me some distance.

If you want a little taster, the working title has now changed from ‘Novel Five’ to the catchier ‘Burying Reggie’. This will probably change in time but it’s nice to have a title.

The one line pitch is ‘An easy-going bus driver uncovers a dead friend’s secret and he has to decide whether to bury it before it buries him.’

I’m looking forward to getting back to it but for now I have a little spare time to work on other projects.

After my minor success last year, I’m looking to explore playwriting and have a few ideas bubbling under.

Anybody who saw my play ‘Father’s Day’ at The Peacock last year may be interested to know that I’ve written two additional scenes, one either side of the play that was performed that night. I have introduced one new character but not sure whether to keep it as a one-hander.

I’ve also been working on a couple other plays that I’m keeping under wraps for now.

Similar to the rule that you can’t write novels if you don’t read books, you can’t be a playwright if you don’t watch plays. I’m making a concerted effort to not only watch more, but to watch a variety of styles to understand what is possible.

Last week I saw two very different plays.

Last Tuesday I travelled to York with some fellow Holmeside Writers to watch Emma Rice’s adaptation of Angela Carter’s Wise Children.

Wise Children Emma Rice

Singing, dancing, puppets, twins changing both race and genders throughout and a bit of incest thrown in. It showed how much was possible on stage and had a lot to be admired but I also think that there was maybe a little too much going on.

If Wise Children showed how you could do a lot on stage, Trainspotting  at The Northern Stage on Saturday showed how much could go on both on stage and in the audience.

Anybody who knows me knows that the idea of immersive theatre is not one that I embrace so walking into a rave carrying a glow stick was not the best of starts for me.

It was unsettling, intense, claustrophobic, offensive and brutal.

And brilliant.

Most people will be familiar with the Trainspotting story by now, whether through the book or film, and they did a good job of recreating the feel.

Actors stumbling into the crowd and flying condoms and spraying dirty toilet water may be too much for some and you were constantly on edge wondering whether you would be singled out. Begbie starting on people in the crowd definitely unsettled the audience members involved but despite having loads of elements I thought I would hate, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Took me a while to process what I had witnessed but I learned a lot about what is possible.

I’ve also been involved in a songwriting project which may come as a surprise to some. Whilst I may not be the Millfield Morrissey, I’ve enjoyed the process and anybody who points out similarities to poetry will be put on the ignore list.

There could be a lot of changes coming up this year, time will tell, but I’m looking forward to both finishing my novel and embarking on some new exciting projects.

As always, I will be grateful to anyone who leaves a review for any of my books.

No matter what new project I start, book sales are my bread and butter and if you could spread the word, it would make my day.

All of my books are £1.99 on Kindle and £7.99 in paperback. A bargain in anyone’s money.

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