This is the second in a series of blogs about the way I write. It’s not the only way to write a book. It’s just my way.
So I’ve already got a premise, a story idea. I’ve worked out when and where the story is set. I’ve got a main character. That’s when I start the major research. I now start reading about what life was like at that specific place at that particular time in history. I have to know what sort of clothes they wore, what food they ate, everything about everyday life then. I take lots of notes. I’m also still looking out for additional story ideas or characters that will make my book more interesting that come from actual history.
I like to find pictures to inspire me. So, I find photos of landscape, if it’s not changed too much over time. I find paintings that were painted at the time. And I find pictures of things that were made at the time—furniture, clothing, dishes—in museum and exhibition catalogues.
By that time I hope that the story is clear in my head and I write down a synopsis of it—a short summary of the story. It might take a page, it might be three pages. Sometimes I do a plot diagram, and see if there are turning points in my story. Are there enough things happening to keep the story interesting all the way through? Does the main character develop and change? Sometimes I can see that there are some boring bits, and I have to think up ways of making that section more interesting.
When I’ve done that, I send the synopsis off to my publisher and say “This is the book I’d like to write next. What do you think?”