Keep a Notebook

Write about what you know isn’t that what they say? Well, I know a LOT about chocolate (I have spent a whole lifetime researching it) so a series with a chocolate theme seemed like a good idea to me!

The Chocolate Box Girls is about five sisters in a blended family, living on the edge of a cliff in the wilds of Somerset, with parents who run a chocolate business. Each book in the series will be from the viewpoint of a different sister, so I still get to try on a brand new character for each book, which is one of my favourite things about writing!

Writing a series is not as simple as writing a stand-alone book. A series has to stay fresh, each book telling its own story while still building towards the final conclusion. The trouble is, I don’t do much planning on paper although I know it makes perfect sense to know where your story is going at any given moment, plotting on paper before I write seems to kill the story dead for me. Daydreaming is my favourite way to develop a story because random, unexpected ideas have the chance to surface and they often turn out to be the best bits of the story!

It makes me smile that daydreaming, which used to get me into trouble all the time at school, is actually the way I earn my living these days. Trust me, it is an under-rated skill a hotline to the imagination, a fast-track to creativity and a brilliant way to turn a spark of idea into something much more!

Maybe, though, with a series, I would need to put some details down on paper? I’d need to plan. Scary!

Juggling timelines, characters and situations over five books rather than the usual one would be a challenge suddenly, the writer’s notebook I use for jotting down ideas, inspirations and themes seemed extra important!

So what can go into a writer’s notebook?

  • Sketches. I love to visualise what my characters look like and often draw them it helps to make them real to me!
  • Pictures torn from magazines of people, places, styles, events.
  • Character profiles likes/dislikes, looks, talents, hopes, dreams, fears
  • Timelines birthdays, ages, seasons of the year, Christmas/Easter/Summer holidays
  • Any facts & figures you might need to know
  • Scribbled ideas, inspiring words, haikus, doodles
  • Snippets of poems, song lyrics, old photos, bus tickets, illustrations

I mapped out a story arc for the series and pinned down an idea for each of the five books I wanted to write. Coming up with titles took a while, because I wanted each title to include the name of the sister telling the story and also be the name of a chocolate. That way, the sisters really would be chocolate box girls!

Planning it definitely doesn’t need to be dull, dreary or boring. It’s a gathering in of ideas, inspirations and background information, a building of characters, fuel for dreams. Cherry Crush, the first book in the series, is out now and Im halfway through writing the second.

Better get back to my daydreaming