In trying to write novels, I have found myself trying to reconcile two different views. One says that it is necessary to know the start and end point of your story and preferable to know all stages in between. The other, that writing should be like jazz, an improvisation with no certain end point: explore possibilities, allow yourself to be diverted.
I have read advocates of the first view say this is something you have to do; of the second, that this is real authorship. The world of writing is thick with other people’s rules.
I’m enjoying writing my current novel. It started with an image of a woman looking out over a waterway. I wrote – discovering characters, writing scenes – and ended up with about 30,000 words. At a certain point I felt the need to summarise what I had discovered and created a synopsis, then offered it out to my writers’ groups for feedback.
Five characters have emerged. Their history, their relationships, their wants and needs. During my early exploration, one of the characters did something very odd to another, and that has become the inciting incident.
Having riffed some more, I have, once again, put that early part of the story into order. I discovered Amazon’s Storybuilder (see picture above right), which is an easy way to arrange the elements.
Which is a very long way of saying, I find myself moving back and forth between views one and two.
If I could describe a common theme in the way I’ve been working, it would be closer to ‘that’s interesting,’ or, ‘wouldn’t it be enjoyable if…’ There’s growth and paring back. It’s so far led to some strange characters, an unexpected love story and an inter-familial conflict.
Mostly, it’s just fun to write. A sort of extended what if? With a licence to go anywhere I want to or use any method that seems to fit.
Perhaps, there are no view-one/view-two purists, they’re just censors I’ve made up in my mind. But if they exist, I suspect I’d be a disappointment to them.