Monday 28 February 2011

February Mini Poll results- Character or Plot?

Thank you all those readers who took a moment to give an opinion. Although this is the result of a small number of answers it is still interesting.

The question was: Should novels be...?

Character led                57%
Plot led                          0%
No preference               42%

All stories have people in them- well there are a few from an animal or ghoul type perspective of course, but usually there is a human being in the story somewhere.

If a writer has done their job properly then the reader will believe that those characters are real- okay you know they're made up, but how many times have you read a story and realised you know someone just like them?

I was fortunate enough to hear crime writer Stephen Booth give a talk last year at Nottingham Writers' Club. During the Q&A at the end of the talk I asked if he was a plot or character led writer?

(Many crime writers do seem to be plot led in my opinion, but I'm open to that view being challenged.)

He explained how his characters led the story, not the plot. His characters did seem to work things out as he wrote...

Of course there has to be a plot to any story, but it doesn't have to be set out from A to Z, letter by letter. If that's the way you write and it works for you, then that's great.

I've always been the type to know where I'm starting- or think I am, then where I see the story as ending and certain points in between the start and finish. Those points may move about a bit, but generally I end up where I expect to, even if I reach that end in a different way than I thought.
It does allow for some surprises along the way...

When I try to plot each stage my writing suffers- I think that is why I've had a number of issues with my Dorset novel. I deviated from my usual style. But I have learnt from it.

Though I do sometimes wonder if it isn't being a writer that makes plots visible. EDITED to add that I was thinking about books made into television dramas when I made this comment. Hope it now makes sense...

So, do you have any opinions on this subject that you'd like to share?

Saturday 26 February 2011

Writing is like a ride on the Big Wheel...

As it has been half term this past week, Nottingham City centre has again played host to a Big Wheel in the Old Market Square.

It is actually an interesting process to watch when it's being put up and again when it's taken down a couple of months later.

Looking at the big wheel going round today started me thinking, that writing and the process of writing a short story, a novel (or even an article) have a lot in common.

First the base for building upon...
Perhaps that equates to having what you need to start the process ( a notepad and pen or a computer and keyboard).

The big supporting poles come next ( the initial idea...the plot?)

Then the wheel begins to be constructed (the characters and the setting).

The viewing compartments get added next ( the dialogue and the narrative).

When the wheel is completed (the first draft) it is tested and anything that needs correcting is done (editing).

So the wheel is finally ready to run (you say goodbye to your manuscript).

In you climb and off you go until the wheel stops ( it's in the post or winging its way through the ether to that editor, agent or publisher and finally lands in their in-tray/inbox).

Then you start going again (it's being considered) and who knows whether the next time the wheel stops it may be the return envelope and you'll soon be getting off the wheel sooner than expected.
You may go round a few times and when you reach the ground for the final time you may have that acceptance you've been hoping for.

But even if it fails that time you can always try again...

And as we've been talking about the Big Wheel here is a picture...

big wheel,night,lights,metal,cabins,amusements
Big Wheel
photo by Richard Bevitt