Tuesday, August 29, 2006

When I was young, when I'd try to write a story, I wouldn't know how to start. I knew 'Once upon a time' was lame. So what to do? I could start out by introducing the character: 'Bob was a lawyer who wanted to be a carpenter.' But that sounded clumsy. The only way to make an opening line like that would be an almost Carrollian commentary discussing Bob with us. Very lighthearted, and very narrator-talking-to-the-reader.

Eventually, I realised the easiest way was to start in the middle of something. 'Bob looked around nervously. This was his first time using a hammer and if he broke his fingers, he didn't want the nearby construction workers to laugh at him.' It worked.

If I was a better writer, I'd do something in between. 'It was a sunny day in middleton. The leaves fluttered in the breeze, and Mrs. Andrews was hanging up laundry to try. Down the street, a construction crew was breaking for lunch.' But the transition over to Bob's stealing a hammer and then smashing his fingers requires magical writing skills only held by brilliant writers.

So I usually stick with the 'jump right in' approach. Bob's holding the hammer. Ambulance needed presently.

But I can only write a few paragraphs of this scene. I then have to jump over to Fred who is in another country but will hopefully tie in sometime later. Fred's an orthopaedic surgeon. Yeah, that's right. Oh what fun he'll be, what with the cutting and sewing and gushing blood!

Two paragraphs later, though, I have to leave this scene to go to another. And it can't be the Bob scene. That one hit a dead end. I have to start yet another.

Perhaps next November my Nanowrimo will consist of 49 000 words of brief, unrelated scenes followed by a three paragraph conclusion that pulls them all together. That, I can do.

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