When I’m planning a new story, which comes first – character or plot? This is a question I’m often asked, but with me it’s usually neither of these. It’s the setting which gets me started, thinking about a place where I would like to see my characters acting and reacting, and watching them as they go about their loves and lives in a particular place.
My current novel-in-progress is set in Devon, where I live. In fact, I’m setting it just up the road from where my own modern house (it’s ten years old) sits on a tract of ancient, previously undisturbed farmland which clearly hasn’t been ploughed by any human agency, because just below the surface of the soil there are river pebbles still sitting in their clay matrix, pebbles which were put there by a river which was flowing a million years ago.
So now I have my setting, and my characters are coming to life and acting in my story. The cliff-top in the photograph is only a mile or two away from me. So I’ve walked there often. Cliff-top, hmmm – someone is going to have fall off, aren’t they? Or be pushed?