This is the latest in my series of blogs about my reasons for writing a specific novel. I believe that every good story has a good reason for telling it and I think any aspiring writers should take time to really consider their rationale for investing time and effort into a serious commitment like writing a novel. I hope my reasons resonate in the minds of others and perhaps they can help inspire the future writing generation.
So ‘abducted’ is my science-fiction mystery thriller series – you can find out more about the story elsewhere on the website – that was my first published work back in 2008. The first two instalments are available now and I am churning through the details of the third and final instalment; “The Choices”. Coming soon, peeps!
The first thing I should say is that I really enjoyed writing this story. Every writer has different styles in how they approach novel writing and they usually vary in the degrees of planning put into the work. Some authors spend months, even years planning the intricate detail that sits behind a story, conducting research and compiling an incredible amount of data about characters, settings, themes, language, technology…every aspect of the book is mapped out before the first word is crafted in earnest.
For me, planning is definitely a necessity and my years of experience as a project manager helps me in that regard. Detailed analysis and planning are the backbone of the change management profession but I am naturally inclined to deliver against an agreed structure and schedule. When it comes to story planning, I enjoy the process of mind mapping and creating detailed character profiles (that’s one for a future blog, I think).
Creating ‘abducted’ was a very different proposition. I sat at my computer in my upstairs office one evening, with a couple of projects already in the planning process. I could have picked up one of those “in progress” ideas and continued my planning work but I was in a frame of mind that I just need a creative outpouring. I had done more than enough planning, I just wanted to create something.
In my mind, I had an image. It was a simple picture, the close up of a sleeping man, right in his face as he starts coming around. He yawns, mutters a little then he stretches…only for his arms to hit on something just above his head. He opens his eyes and realises that he is not in his bed, in his home; he is trapped somewhere, somehow. And panic fills his eyes.
That is literally all I had. And I started writing.
That image became the first two pages of ‘The Awakening’. The man became Gareth Oakley, the unassuming hero of the book. But at that point, I literally had no idea who he was or what was happening. I was as blind to the situation as the reader would be and that ignited a real fire inside me. I wanted to follow this unplanned journey, I wanted to see where this story would take me. I didn’t even have a genre in mind, just a man in a dilemma and my imagination to guide me moving forward.
As the story took shape, so did my reasons for continuing to write the story.
I became fascinated with the idea of waking up and having been completely removed from the life you know, the people you love, the world with which you are familiar. Over time, other characters came into focus and I made the somewhat brave decision to have all of my twenty-five characters introduced right up front in the trilogy. There are literally only those people in the whole world and you have time to really get to know them and understand who they are.
Ultimately, ‘abducted’ is a story about people discovering who they really are inside. Once they are removed from the lives that they knew, Gareth and the other abductees start to grow as characters. They don’t have the distractions (such as Gareth’s alcohol and Bryony’s abusive partner) they once had so they can be themselves, on a level par with their fellow abductees. In fact, there’s only one character who never really changes…
In some ways, it is my most ambitious writing because I have never put some many characters under a microscope in one book. Three books means that we can still allow the story to unfold and the people to develop but I wanted to write a story about human interactions. If you read the story (and I would love it if you did), you might find something of yourself in at least one of the characters…for good or bad!