Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Pass Me The Scalpel

I have been writing a novel without working out the whole story first. This is something I always strongly warn people against doing and in the Brian Keaney catechism it's the number one sin. But I wanted to change my method of working because I was looking for an entirely new voice and an entirely new approach.

Until recently it was working beautifully. I was racing along, delighted with everything I wrote until I got to three quarters of the way through when I hit a problem with the plot. It was like slamming into a brick wall at considerable speed. I felt wounded and dazed. For days I just couldn't see my way around the problem.

Finally, this morning the solution came to me after discussing it with my daughter. Unfortunately, it means I have to go back and rewrite chapters I had already put to bed and kissed goodnight. There will have to be some very delicate keyhole surgery performed and it will not be easy.

That's the problem with making it up as you go along and that's exactly why I tell people not to do it. All the same, I don't regret it. I couldn't find the story any other way. I had to put the words down on paper and let the characters create themselves before I could begin to see who these people were and what they wanted.

So now it's on with the gown and mask and off to the operating theatre. I just hope there isn't too much blood.


Elin said...

Ah, so I'm trying your method which might be working. I'm actually planning something for once. A bitter pill to swallow Brian, and I'm liable to ignore the plan quite a lot and grumble all the way, but I have to hand it to you - you might be right on this matter.

Hope the patient recovers well.


Brian Keaney said...

I hope so , too. Good luck with your writing, Elin.

Paul said...

I think I may be the poster child for this kind of approach. I start out thinking I know my story, and about 2/3 of the way through it I see the bigger/better/different story that really should be told. So back to the beginning for fixes and additions and deletions and general gnashing of teeth.

Still, as you say, it's a means of discovery.

P.S. My son will be getting his M.D. next weekend. If you need any help with the surgery, let me know.

Brian Keaney said...

Congratulations to your son, Paul. I've done plenty gnashing my teeth (not to mention weeping and wailing. Maybe I'll need a dentist too.

From The Corner said...

I have never written with a map and yes, the brick wall is there before me at every turn. Passion is something that, for me, pushes my writing at speeds unknown and yes, there is much rewrite. That said I cannot want of the most important thing I want to write about without the risk of seeing it in the written word, evolved to something totally different. I find the stories worth writing come to me as I write. I am then, not the creator, but the craftsman.