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Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Rocky Road to story telling

I've not written much lately.

Not because I haven't got any ideas, but because I've got too many.  What should I write next? Should it be the one with the llamas in? Or the 'quiet man in the caravan' story? Or should I finish that vampire novella that's half done and sitting on my desktop like a big accusatory finger wagging at me whenever I start my machine?
Yes, I'm inclining towards the llamas myself

It's like...you know when you fancy a bar of chocolate?  You just think 'mmmm, I want some chocolate,' so you go to the shop and you stand in front of the 'chocolate' section and... do you want milk, plain or white? Do you want ordinary chocolate, or chocolate with bits in? Posh chocolate, which you tell yourself you will only eat a little bit of because it's so rich, or cheap chocolate where you know you will scoff the whole bar in seconds? Or would you rather have something covered in chocolate, like peanuts or raisins?  Or even a pack of chocolate biscuits, because they are chocolate and you can also dunk them in your tea?
Choose fast, choose wisely
Too much choice, you see?  I sometimes wish the inside of my brain was like Soviet-era Russia, no choice, one item and you have to queue for a fortnight to get it. If I had to work for ideas I wonder if I would value them more and feel more inclined to work on them - rather than discarding them if they seem to have too many nuts in in and not enough toffee.

And then I have the tendency for my ideas to become like Rocky Road - llamas, plus quiet man in caravan, with a few vampires floating around for good measure.
But, whereas nobody ever said 'what that Rocky Road needed was a few less cherries and not quite so many marshmallow pieces', a book CAN have too many elements in it for proper storytelling.  Too much going on and you can't focus on the characters.

I think I'll go and stare at the chocolate section again for a bit. Warning: my next story may contain nuts.

3 comments:

Lesley Cookman said...

I have a variant on this theme. I am forced into one aisle in the supermarket, towards one checkout at the end. And the trouble is, I just keep picking up more items until I'm way over the "10 items or less" restriction. I've gone in with the strict recipe in mind, approved by whoever needs to approve. But I've got this other lovely ingredient which I could put in, couldn't I? It would add to the range of suspects - wouldn't it? And what about...

Meanwhile, I stick on the middle of the aisle whirling round and round until in the end I whirl myself right out of the shop. And I've pummelled this analogy to death.

Jane Lovering said...

Lesley, there are simply so many tempting things that could be added... I think a great part of the skill of writing is knowing what to leave out, rather than what to put in! A bit like cooking too, now I come to think of it...

Rhoda Baxter said...

I usually add too much stuff and have to take things out. This works okay in writing. Disastrous in cooking.
For what it's worth, I'd like you to finish the vampire novel. Pleeeeease. (pretty please with cherries and marshmallows on top?)