New Novel & World Domination

For the last few weeks I have been plotting. Not the ‘world domination’ kind, but the ‘new novel’ kind. That said, when creating a new story world you need to dominate it – as its creator you must understand every angle of your world and its people in order to write it convincingly. This is especially true when, like me, you are writing fantasy.

This new novel has me super excited, because…

  1. Firstly, I’ve been wanting to write something a little darker for a while now. This will be a mid-grade urban fantasy about a cursed bloodline, 17th century beasts, some kick ass supernatural bounty hunters and one scary immortal dude
  2. Secondly, I’m plotting it in a whole new way

When I say ‘new’, I mean entirely new to me. When I first tried writing a novel, like a lot of newbies, plotting was something I knew nothing about. As I’ve grown as a writer I’ve naturally started planning my stories and have become more aware of the value of plotting. Kate Forsyth also instilled its importance in me through the mentorship.

This will be the fourth novel I’ve written. The first was free written and terrible – it’s happily a bottom drawer manuscript. The second was only slightly more planned, and would have been another bottom drawer ms if Kate hadn’t swooped in to help me resurrect it. The third required more planning and the first draft was certainly the cleanest I’ve produced yet, but still I’ve learnt more about structure since then.

With my fourth novel, I want to go a few steps further. I want to focus on getting to know my characters intimately before I start. I want to work at weaving in each story arc and building the tension towards the climax. Ultimately I want to break the story down scene by scene, all before I start writing. I’ve never done anything like this before and I couldn’t do it alone, so I’m equipped with Robert McKee’s book on the principles of screenwriting, called Story. It’s a bible on the craft of plot – one you’ll hear a lot of writers mention. He talks about breaking a story down into acts, sequences, scenes and moments, and analysing each one as to how it’s driving the story. He’s also the king of the three act structure, something I’ve been interested in studying for a while. He opens the book with an awesome quote:

Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules; rebellious, unschooled writers break rules; an artist masters the form

Robert, I’m not sure I’ll do you proud, but I’ll certainly do my best. The only way to learn is to push yourself out into new territory – challenge yourself to something new. I’m certainly doing that, and loving every terrifying moment. Wish me luck!

16 Responses to “New Novel & World Domination”

  1. 1 Carol Warner March 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    You are so inspiring, Katherine. Good luck with your new book. It sounds like you’ve got it all under control ;)

  2. 2 Joanna Gaudry March 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Best of luck as your head into your new novel, Katherine. Glad that you’re feeling enthusiastic about it. Thanks for the great advice. I’ll have to keep an eye out for ‘Story’ by Robert McKee. Joanna :))

  3. 3 Tina C March 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Hey Kathrine


    I wish you all the brilliance and wonderment though your new novel and that you achieve World Domination in not only the new world you are plotting, but in the book that will sell around the whole wide world in many different languages and mediums!

    Bye 4 now

  4. 4 Karen Tyrrell March 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Katherine,
    I really love the plot of you new novel. How I love Fantasy!
    You are so lucky to have Kate as a mentor.
    I too am a HUGE fan of Robert McKees book, Story.
    Cheers, Karen :))

  5. 5 Sharim chua March 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Good luck Kath! Sounds like my cup of tea. Look forward to reading more about the new project.

    Hope you’re developing your maniacal laugh for late night plotting sessions.

  6. 6 Katherine Battersby March 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Carol – not sure I really have it under control, but I suppose that’s the feeling that drives us to keep working at it!

    Joanna – it really is a great book. Long and dense-ish, but you’ll soak it up if you’re really into plot and story.

    Tina – thanks for the vote of confidence! Your enthusiasm really made me smile. Not sure I can quite hope for world domination in that sense, but I certainly hope the story may one day find a publisher who believes in it … although it will have to be written first!

    Karen – fantasy is a great genre. I’ve always been an avid reader of it, and more recently have been loving urban fantasies, so really looking forward to finally writing one.

    Sharim – I thought you might like the premise. It’s a story Andrew has been bugging me to write for a while. I’ll put ‘maniacal laugher’ on my list of things to develop. Mwa ha ha!

  7. 7 deescribewriting March 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Loved the post, Kath. Sounds like fun. Over at my blog I have been doing the very same thing – plotting and getting to know my characters. I use butcher’s paper to help me get all my ideas down and then link them all together. I’m still in the process of interviewing my main characters – they have a lot to say for themselves.

    Sounds like you’re full of inspiration.

    Happy writing.


  8. 8 Lynn Priestley March 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Your new story sounds fantastic. I bet it feels great to be stepping back into big story land again. And Robert McKee is awesome. Story is a great book. I came so close to doing a workshop with him in London when I lived O.S but unfortunately the bombs went off and I scurried home instead. One day I hope to fulfil that dream. Enjoy the new landscape of your new story.

  9. 9 Katherine Battersby March 22, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Dee – I do exactly the same with butcher’s paper. It’s a great way to free the mind and to get all your thoughts down. I find even the things I’m not sure about start connecting with other ideas and weaving together. I’ll be interviewing my characters soon – they’re already chattering away in my head.

    Lynn – You are absolutely spot on. It feels SO good to be back working on a novel again. People often ask which I think I’ll focus on – pbs or novels – and I don’t want to ever have to choose. I adore creating both for very different reasons, and always after a period of working on one, switching to the other brings a great flood of excitement and reopens my mind. I would love to attend one of Robert’s story workshops. Maybe when we win the lotto we could head over together on a writing trip? :)

  10. 10 Lynn Priestley March 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

    The fabulous news is you are so talented at both – you wont ever have to choose between PBs or novels. Thanks goodness. You’re on with the Lotto deal. You’ll hear me scream from Adelaide!

  11. 11 Lynn Priestley March 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Can I have that ‘S’ back on the end of Thanks? I think I’m going to need it later…

  12. 12 Katherine Battersby March 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Lynn, you are just too lovely. We’ll just have to see how it all goes for me, but in the mean time I certainly enjoy the creative process. And lets leave the ‘s’ where it is – there are plenty of letters to go around!

  13. 13 Brent March 23, 2010 at 5:19 am

    It is amazing how easy a well-planned novel is to write or rather it is MUCH easier to write.

    Even a simple outline (for newbies) can take one a LONG way.

    Most people don’t want to spend the time up front to plan, but just want to start writing because they are inspired.

    Usually these books die off when the author doesn’t know where to take them and at THIS point is is also extremely useful for an author to plot out the novel.


  14. 14 Katherine Battersby March 29, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I absolutely agree, Brent. I think everyone varies in how much planning they do, but it certainly helps to know at least vaguely where you’re heading as you navigate the writing of a new story. I’m enjoying being much more planned with this novel.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  15. 15 Scott Chambers April 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    So many wise people! It took me a few goes (and *many* months) to discover the benefit of mapping out a novel from the get go (apart from how much it sucks to have written about 170 pages in a burst of enthusiasm only to run smack into a brick wall cos you were doing it all by the seat of your pants). Not only does a plan help keep you on track, focus your thoughts, and keep you motivated, but it also gives you options. I mean, I *know* I must be the only wanna-be writer in the world who has mood swings (snigger), but some days when I sit down I just *don’t feel like* picking up from where I last left off. Had a crap day, the cat just threw up in my shoe, or whatever. At least if you have a dot-point plan, you can run your finger down it, until you get to an appropriately light or dark moment to suit your mood, and pick it up from there. So in short (tho already long), plans are a great way to circumvent mild writer’s block. For chronic writer’s block however, like Katherine said, switching from novels to picture book texts (for those who are able), is just what the doctor ordered!

    ps Yes Lynn, don’t be too liberal with those consonants, someone did that with vowels once and the Hawaiians stole them all! Does horrible things to your tongue when you’re trying to read their street signs.

  16. 16 Katherine Battersby April 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Scott, I think the appeal of plotting always develops with experience (we all have those manuscripts which will happily never see the light of day). And I hope the cat doesn’t give you too many reasons for mood swings! My puppy does occasionally – he once gifted me a massive dead rat on my favourite pillow…

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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