Welcome to Paula Martin – My website guest for April 2015

April 8, 2015

The Mad Game Newsreel

Paula Martin

Paula Martin – Author

This month may I welcome Paula Martin to my web site. Paula  is the author of contemporary romance novels and books one and two of her new series of three are now on sale.

PM_Irish Inheritance_KGN-blogPM_irishintrigue_KG-blog

Irish Inheritance was released in 2014 to great acclaim and has just been followed up by Irish Intrigue, published in February 2015. She has been kind enough to pen a few words for me…

I’m often asked where I get my ideas for my novels, and my answer is usually, ‘Anywhere and everywhere’.

Once it was a magazine article about an apartment in Paris, abandoned since the outbreak of the Second World War; another time it was seeing an elderly actress’s signature in the guest book at a small cottage in County Mayo, Ireland, and one novel was partly the result of the eruption and dust cloud from the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano that disrupted air travel a few years ago. I can also pinpoint the exact moment the idea for another novel was conceived: I was relaxing on the sundeck of a Nile cruise ship and wondered if it was possible to vault over the rails to the ship moored next to ours. Not that I had any intention of trying it, you understand!

Incidents like this can provide the seeds that may eventually germinate into a story, or at least become part of one. But seeds need roots before they can start to grow – and, for me, the roots are the characters and the location of the story. The Paris apartment in the article became a house in Ireland, which is bequeathed to two people, one English, one American, by an unknown benefactress. The signature in the guest book is seen by a young actress who, at the time, has no idea of the part the elderly actress would eventually play in resolving the problems between herself and the ‘hero’ of the story. The Icelandic volcano gave me the occupation of the hero of a story, although I didn’t realise how much research I would have to do about volcanoes! And vaulting over the rails of the cruise ship? Well, that never actually happened, in real life or in my story, but it did lead to an instant attraction between a cruise ship tour guide and an archaeologist who was working in the Valley of the Kings.

Once the main characters and location are in place, the seed can start to grow into what at first may seem like a straggly sapling with dozens of twisting stems and twigs i.e. the plot. I’ll admit I am not a plotter. I don’t work out all the details of each plot in advance, or even each chapter. I let the tree grow as the characters tell me their story. I think every writer can tell you about the times when their characters do or say something unexpected, or when a secondary character suddenly appears in the story. My favourite was the Nile boatman who sang Elvis songs. When he invented himself, I must admit I blinked a few times and thought, ‘Where on earth did he come from?’ But I liked him so much, I decided (or maybe he decided?) he needed an important role later in the story.

I can liken the trunk, branches and twigs of the tree into the ‘what ifs’ of the development of the story. The trunk becomes the main theme, and the branches and twigs are the twists and turns of the storyline. The ‘what ifs’ can be fascinating and endless. What if someone else had their own designs on the house in Ireland? What if the young actress felt she wasn’t ready for a new relationship after the tragic loss of her husband? What if the volcano expert allows his professional interests to lead him to abandoning the woman he loves? And what if ‘someone’ is trying to sabotage the archaeological discovery in the Valley of the Kings?

The tree starts to thrive and fill out, until eventually the story is finished.

Did I say finished? A first draft is far from ‘finished’. The next step is to get rid of any dead wood, remove some branches to control the growth, and pull out the weeds that threaten to choke it. Of course I’m referring to the whole process of revising, polishing, and editing the first draft. Are all the scenes absolutely necessary to the story? Does all the dialogue contribute something to the plot or to the development of the characters? And what about all those unnecessary words like ‘then’, ‘that’, ‘very’, ‘just’ and ‘really’, as well as the words you know you tend to overuse? Or the times you’ve repeated information that the reader already knows? Cut out the dead wood, pull up the weeds, and, last but not least, give the tree a careful pruning. Some people print out the whole story, claiming that this enables them to spot typos, missed words, or other errors more easily. My method is to change the font and enlarge it to 16pt. and then read it out loud. This helps me to spot any typing or punctuation errors, and at the same time I can hear the sentences that sound awkward, as well as any repeated words or phrases that I’ve missed in previous editing runs of the manuscript.

Thus, from the small seed of an initial idea, I finally have a healthy and attractive tree – and, hopefully, a story that my readers will enjoy.

Find Paula on Amazon HERE

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3 Comments on “Welcome to Paula Martin – My website guest for April 2015”

  1. Jennifer Wilck Says:

    Hi Paula, good luck with your Irish books and can’t wait for #3!

    Reply

  2. ana morgan Says:

    I like the comparison of story development to a tree, Paula. I’m waiting for #3, too!

    Reply

  3. Paula Martin Says:

    Thanks, Jennifer and Ana. Looks like I need to hurry up and finish Irish book #3!

    Reply

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