During the events of Tabitha, once in a while, our protagonist slips into a kind of altered state. Her physiology has been changed by what’s happened to her, so I thought it should make sense that her psychology, even her ontology, might be altered too. She doesn’t just look and act differently; she thinks and sees and experiences her senses differently too.

These were arguably the most challenging parts of the book to write, but also incredibly satisfying. They’re the moments where, after days and weeks and months of writing, for a fleeting moment I could really get inside my character’s head. As a writer, there’s few better feelings in the world. But how do we get to that point?

I’ve said it before: music is the shortcut. Like a drug, it brings on instant emotions. Alters your mental state. Colours your writing and even takes it in new directions.

You don’t have to plod through the plot every night when you’re writing. Sometimes the best stuff comes when you put some music on and take the story in a completely different direction, even just for a page or two. It gives the reader a break from the main plot; it shows them a new side to your characters. And it feels damn good to write too.

Look for that moment of ‘altered state’ in your character’s experience, where the plot and the world can fall away for a little while, and they have something of a revelation. When we read, we can live inside character’s heads. It’s something that cinema can’t do. No other medium can do it. It’s something unique to the written word; use it.

And, in those rare moments of a character’s transcendence, a reader can turn into a fan. (I know I do.)

Give this a listen, start writing something quickly, and see if you can take your character’s thoughts into an altered state. They may surprise you.

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