As I prepare to publish my fourth book entitled Little Big Boy, I have become hyper-critical as always of my latest work. It is a terrible affliction and I think it is born out of my fear of letting my work go. The final edit is almost complete and I have been drawn to consider my own writing style as a result of some correspondence with a fellow writer.
In preparing a book for publication, there are many things to consider, not least how you will describe your book in summary to the world in the blurb and how to define its genre to help potential readers decide if this is the book for them.
I find this particularly difficult because my writing is so fundamentally character driven. While I have my beginning middle and end, what happens, how it happens and how I develop the story, is something I largely hand over to the characters that I create in my mind.
In little Big Boy for example, I was very much a seven year old boy, every time I sat at my laptop to tell his story from his very unique perspective. It is a sad and hopefully uplifting story and while I knew the ultimate destiny of all the characters in the book when I set out on my journey, some of those destinies changed, as I presented my Little Big Boy with situations that hopefully, most little boys will never have to face.
Each dilemma that he faces in the book I faced also, because as I wrote the story, I became him in the moment. I allowed myself to react as my seven year old self would have reacted, had I been placed in the same situation and it was quite a harrowing experience. Of course I can remember being a seven year old boy and this helps. To get into the heads of most of my characters, the only way is for me to let my imagination fly.
For those who have read Larry Flynn, they will know that while it is not written in the first person, the story really comes directly from inside Larry’s mind. That was a particularly difficult story to tell. I had to become Larry in my head and it was challenging to be such an intolerant, spiteful person. Yet that is how I do what I do.
Daisy May in Darkly Wood, is as much me as is the darker character Woody in the same book. My writing is character driven, so how do I drive the character of a teenage girl like Daisy? I say my characters are me but I can’t be Larry Flynn, Little Big Boy, Daisy May or even James Delaney in Bad Blood can I? From my perspective as a story teller in many ways I am. Let me explain.
There is one painful passage in Little Big Boy where my little hero is the victim of some terrible violence at the hands of his father. As I wrote this particular piece, the first thing I did, was to write and think of the event from the perspective of the father, despite the fact that the book is written in the voice of Little Big Boy. What I knew I wanted from that particular passage, was to express the fear and confusion that the little boy felt. However I knew that to achieve this without being one dimensional, I had to inject a taste of the spirit of his father. That made it more real for me. In telling one person’s story, I always want to also imagine how it is to be another. I wanted readers to feel Daisy May’s excitement at the anticipation of her first kiss in Darkly Wood but to do that, I needed the reader to sense what she was feeling from the boy she wanted to kiss.
So while I often write from the perspective of one character, my plan is to always let the reader into the head of the other characters at the same time. I like to blur the lines between good and bad, happy and sad, love and hate. My challenge is to then step back and categorise what I have just done in terms of genre. Sometimes it is harder than one might imagine. I spend so much time inside the heads of characters, that I find it hard not to see the stories as anything other than an almost personal experience. It sounds a little nuts I know but that’s how I do things.
Darkly Wood is widely seen as horror in terms of genre, yet I wrote a love story. Larry Flynn it turns out is a thriller, yet I wrote a tale of sorrow, love, loss and regret. Bad Blood is in some ways a violent, serial killing thriller that is for me, a tale of morality, duty and family ties. Little Big Boy? I know what it is meant to be, but who knows what people will think. I can never tell in advance of a book launch how readers will react to what I have written. It often amazes me what people pick up on and I find it fascinating to see the perspective of others. Ultimately, all I am trying to do is to tell a story. All I really want is for the readers of my books to get to the end and feel that it was a story worth reading. So it is nearly time to let go, I hope it has been worth the wait.
Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…
Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.
You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : – http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower