Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Aimless Writing

Here is the rule for how to begin a story.

Writing a story, like archery, needs an aim before you start. 

If you just go for it without a proper aim, the result is likely to be unpleasant, painful and not very rewarding.

What you originally intended as the aim can change as you write, of course.  Probably some kind of air current/wind direction analogy should go here but I was never very good at archery.

My three sort of basically complete MSS all ended up in different places to where I thought they were going when I started.

Working Title: Rigor Morris was originally going to be about Pauline helping Morris be nice to people, which in the finished draft is now only one comic scene towards the end and Pauline isn’t even involved. 

Working Title: The Road To Confidence was supposed to be about Hannah working alone while Clark was in prison, but that soon got scuppered when I realised that Clark was such a strong character that he needed to be in it throughout. 

Working Title: The Unadulteress was always meant to have a depressing ending, a sort of inevitability to it, but when I got there, that wasn’t right at all and the entire tone of the novel changed.

But you still need that aim to start with.  Otherwise you’re just typing.  And typing with no aim is basically hitting the keyboard randomly.  And it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve sat in front of a piano and just pressed the keys, not once has a beautiful concerto come out.

The problem I have is the story I want to write (and when I say want to write, I have already typed 400 pages of rubbish) started as a story in my head to amuse myself when I was bored.  I made up a bunch of interconnecting characters and set them in motion, so the same characters could relive the same day a dozen times with completely different results, and although they did progress and grow, still they lived parallel lives over and over.  So when I decided to write them down as Working Title: The Perfect Two, I basically had a soap or a comic, with plotlines that lasted years and restarted all the time.

So.  Sit down and figure out what the AIM is.  What the POINT is.  What you want to get from the story.  This is your — NEW ANALOGY! — acorn.  And as we all know, from little acorns, mighty oaks do grow.

So I did pare down all these parallel universes, right on down and down, right to the very basic level.  And discovered.

I had three acorns.

And what do three acorns do when you plant them together?

No.  They choke each other and die.

The point I’m trying to make here is:

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