Researching Writing

Dream!

Dream! (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

When I first dreamed up the idea of writing a fictional story that would inform the world about why people choose home birth, (click here for that post) my idea was to fictionalise what happened to me.

I was once one of the majority who believe that those who chose home birth were brave extremists. I loved the idea, but birth is a risky business – right?

Wrong. I no longer believe that, so surely all I had to do was write my story, but add a bit of fiction to the reality to give it more bite.

I had  a beginning – a disgruntled nurse who was tired of saving lives that she believed should have been allowed to die peacefully – and an end – she becomes a midwife who understands how birth is meant to work, and why it often works well at home – and a middle. Ah, the middle.

The middle sort of fell flat, it meandered around and didn’t seem to work.

I bravely put aside my three years of work to begin again. One of the many things writing has taught me is that it is good to ‘let words go.’

Before I moved too far ahead with my new idea, I did two things which I think were valuable to my writing. I’ve not heard of many writers who did these:

  1. With every book I read, I put Stick-it tags on phrases or words I loved, and some I disliked. At the end of each book, I would write my own personal review of the novel. It helped me understand why I like some books better than others.
  2. I chose one of my favourite books and re-read it analytically. I saw how hooks were inserted into each chapter, how the story was strung together and what made it appeal to me apart from the subject matter.

Next, I began plotting my story, mostly using what I learnt from point number two. With each chapter, I inserted hooks, sometimes very subtle, but they are there.

Have other writers done this before writing their next story? If not, what are some of the tools you have used to help with the plotting and planning of your book?

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