There are authors who advise: “Don’t plan your novel. Just write!” Myself, I don’t have any such advice for other writers. What works for me might not work at all for many others. I haven’t planned any of my novels. I find that the spontaneity in the writing takes me down roads I might not have gone. However, as I begin Jack Book 3, I am finding the need to plan – at least a basic road map that will take me to the end that I already have established in Book 1 which I began in 2004 and published in 2015.
Book 2 was published in May, 2016. No real planning for either book. A lot of gestation though, even in dreams, which, to my mind, is a form of planning. Sometimes or even often after a period of gestation, words practically explode from my unconscious mind. This occurred many times at one of my favorite writing venues – sitting at the long bar-type table overlooking the downtown subway stairs at Starbucks, Astor Place, Manhattan near where I lived for 13 years. Those two books were substantially written over my NYC years when I also was teaching. Often I could not write fast enough to keep up with what the characters were saying. That’s how I like my writing to go – high speed acceleration.
I haven’t written a word yet of Book 3. There are some complications involving some key questions. Should the two young Jamaican free black women be returned to Jamaica after they were kidnapped on a slave ship and after they conspired with Jack and Jeremy to take the ship along with its human cargo? As the women have romantic relations with the two male protagonists, and are on the slaver sailing to the Central American coast with the now-freed slaves, should the women go to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1861, just as the American Civil War begins? That is where Jack and Jeremy must eventually return as both have a date with destiny at a little town in Pennsylvania after they join General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. But the moms of the two women no doubt would be worried sick now that a few months have passed since their disappearance. And then, if America and Mauritia are not returned to Jamaica, where will they go or stay after the young men go off to war? What happens to the 110 former slaves on the ship, the Diana? Are they returned to Senegal, left at a Central American coastal village or even taken to – what, Charleston, the center of the slave trade in the USA? They need a home.
Maybe back to Africa then. It would be fraught with danger – and adventure – with more hurricanes and the strong possibility of again running into the pirate ship that had chased the Diana after the conspirators stole the ship in a Cuban harbor and made a run toward Africa but had outwitted the faster pirate ship that was in hot pursuit. The same pirate ship as well as other slavers would be waiting for them in the Cape Verde Islands or in ports in Cameroon, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Guinea from which the slaves had been kidnapped or turned over to the slavers by the chiefs. Well, this might be the best course. This post is perhaps all the planning I’ll do as I feel my gestation period coming to an end.
Yes, I would prefer to simply write but the book has a life if its own now and the plot must continue to be woven along the answers to these questions. And yes, there are plenty of writers no doubt who would sing the praises of the old adage, “An ounce of prevention (planning in this case) is worth a pound of cure.”
Categories: Writing the Novel