Tom Palmer's writing blog - How I write: how you write, Part Four autumn term
Posted by Tom Palmer
13 Oct 2011
“I never took photos because I thought writing should be all about words and description. But I’ve changed my mind on that. Now I take hundreds of photos.”
I’ve started the full on planning of Squad 2. I have a good idea of the rough plot for the story, but I need to work out where each part of the story will be set.
I’ve got lots of choices.
- on the deck of the ship that goes up the Norwegian coast, through spectacular but eerie scenery
- in the very noisy ship’s engine rooms
- on the barren mountain tops around the city of Tromso
- up or down the cable car that lifts you from Tromso to those mountain tops
There are some great places for chase scenes and action in Tromso. It’s just working out which setting would work best at the beginning, middle and end of the book. It is important to get the setting right because the place that some of the scenes are set can play a large role in what happens. For instance, it’s very different trying to overhear a conversation on a windy hilltop, than in the tight streets of a city centre.
I used to rely on my notes to make decisions about where to set certain scenes. I never took photos because I thought writing should all be about words and description. But I’ve changed my mind on that.
Now I take hundreds of photos.
I once set a book in Russia’s capital city, Moscow. I knew it would involve Danny (my football detective) racing around the streets of the city centre. So, for several hours one day, I walked the streets of Moscow with a map, taking photos of buildings, monuments and people, marking where they were on the map.
When it came to writing the book those photos were invaluable. I set up my computer to do a slide show and it was like being there. I was able to see where Danny could run when he was being chased and could hide when he was following someone. That meant every description was accurate and made the reader feel they really were in Moscow. I hope.
So now I am doing the same for Norway. I have lots of shots of the cable car, the ship’s engine rooms and even of its prison.
Photos are useful because they have so much detail, unlike the few details that I have noted down or remembered. They’re a very important part of my writing process now.
Schools Network members can also download a classroom activity related to this blog entry. View.
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