We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Sarah Bonner on starting at the very beginning


Sarah Bonner on starting at the very beginning.



Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner is out in paperback on 21st July! 


I was chatting to an author friend the other day about what a frankly ludicrous endeavour writing a novel is. Just the idea that one day you sit down and write, then write some more, and some more, until finally you have about 90,000 words of a story! That conversation got me thinking though: where do you even start?


For me, ideas generally start from a what if question. For HER PERFECT TWIN that question was: what if you had to convince someone you were your identical twin sister?


But how to turn that single question into an entire novel?  I’m a very visual problem solver and so I have a huge whiteboard at home. I start by writing that original what if in the centre of the board and from that single posit branches a whole raft of other questions: who, what, where, when, why.


Who is the story about? What are they up to? Where is the story set, and when? But – for me – it is the why which is most important. Why determines motivation. It solves plot points. It ensures congruency and consistency. It helps to create a story is broadly believable.


Every time I ask why I will go through a series of possible answers: some of them are nonsense, some are far too simplistic, some of them seem like perhaps they have a kernel of truth to them. So then I ask more whys.


In HER PERFECT TWIN, Megan must convince the world she is her identical twin. But why? Well, the answer to that question was when things started to get interesting. Because Megan doesn’t want anyone to know that Leah is dead. But why? Because she killed her! That was when I realised I was writing a crime novel.


But people don’t just commit sororicide for no reason. So why did Megan kill Leah? Because she discovered Leah was having an affair with her husband. OK: so that kind of works. But is it really enough of a reason to kill someone? I needed one final why. Why did Leah have an affair with Megan’s husband? Because Leah spent their entire lives stealing everything from Megan. Excellent; now I had a backstory for the twins; a sense of who they were and how they behaved towards each other. But most importantly, I finally had a motive!


You might think I’ve just given away the entire plot to HER PERFECT TWIN by telling you who the killer is and why she did it. But don’t worry, it’s not much of a spoiler. For I might be most concerned with asking why. But Megan is most concerned with how. How can she possibly get away with it?


And for that answer you’ll have to read the book!