Glaston Chronicles Young adult books
As I previously mentioned, my progress on the Glaston Chronicles Young adult books was interrupted by all the work that had to be done regarding the WAF England and Wales Fatima Statue and Relics Visitation programme last year.
So I am now back at work on the series, on the third book, which deals with the heroes going back to the Middle Ages.
The approach I adopt in planning each book and indeed the series as a whole is a hybrid one, which I think is probably what most people do. That is, it’s a hybrid between planning everything out in advance, in detail, and alternatively, waiting and hoping that inspiration will strike as you are actually writing or typing out the text.
The writers who take these approaches are known as either “plotters” or “pantsers” – a plotter being someone who plans/plots out the details of their novel before they start to write, while a pantser – to use an analogy from the early days of flying – is a writer who flies/writes by the “seat of their pants”. That is, they do little or no planning and rely on the inspiration of the moment – making it up as they go along in the hope that all will turn out well.
The advantage of planning everything in advance is that you have a definite outline to work from – the disadvantage is that it can become something of a strait jacket – you are tied down to a particular plot even if you come up with something new. Plus you are not necessarily tuned it to any new ideas which come along, as mentally you are tied to a particular plan.
The advantage of being a “pantser” on the other hand, is that you can come up with some brilliant scenes and characters and ideas, but you may run into the sand when your plot actually goes nowhere – so you can waste a lot of time having to redo your text.
Probably, in practise, most writers are a little bit of both, and I certainly am. I like to have a definite outline so I know roughly where the story is going, but I also like to leave open the possibility of being inspired with new ideas so as to improve the story and characters.
And in practise for me, I have found that it is very difficult to plan out in advance exactly how things will work out with the story, as one idea or character seems to lead to other thoughts and ideas which can then be incorporated into the final book.
As an example of this, while recently working on the third volume, which deals with life in England in the fifteenth century, as the story developed the main characters, Matt, Luke and Annie, who have joined up with a company of soldiers making their way to the Battle of Bosworth, which took place in August 1485, arrive at a medieval abbey.
As a way of adding “local colour” I wanted them to have an encounter with some pilgrims on their way to Glastonbury, and so wrote in an episode where they meet them as they are leaving the abbey. I also wanted to do this was because going on pilgrimage was a very important part of medieval life, and so it’s something that’s useful for readers to know.
So that was fine, but then the thought struck me that I could tie in this meeting with other aspects of the story, one of which included having a Knights Hospitaller veteran of the Siege of Rhodes, which took place in 1480, as the chaplain of the company.
Bearing in mind that it is best, if possible, not to clutter things up with too many characters in a scene, I cut down the pilgrim group to just one, a man who was also a Knights Hospitaller veteran and who knew the chaplain from their service together in the Mediterranean.
That has the advantage of making the meeting more personal and intimate, and thus more memorable and interesting for the reader.
Then I realised that I could tie in this meeting with other aspects of the story which I had already established as having happened at Glastonbury abbey, that is the main characters discovering the effigy of a Knight, who had taken part in the Crusades and been to the Holy Land, in the Lady Chapel there.
You will need to eventually read the book to see how it all fits together, but for me it shows the wisdom of the hybrid plotter/panster approach – now I just need to pray for more inspiration!
I am hoping that this third book in the Glaston Chronicles series will be available later this year, and in any event, the previous two books are still available. You can see details about them here:
If anyone would like to help me by reading the first draft of the third book, when it’s ready, please get in touch – I have found it very useful to get feedback from readers.