Friday 18 November 2011

The way my stories write themselves

I've just finished the first draft of a short story.

Originally, I had a 24 year old man coming home from a year of travelling to find his mother has just died. A couple of days later and this man is now 19 and housebound. How does that happen? I have no idea.

My ideas form so subtly that it takes a while - musing on the bus, or while trying to get to sleep - for the actual characters to form. When I started writing the 24 year old version, the words plodded along - there was a lot of conversation, a lot of catching up with old friends and family, and a brand new niece, but not a lot was happening. I'd hoped the mother would become important, but I just couldn't bring her to the fore.

Then suddenly, I started again. New, blank piece of paper, and the 19 year old sprung out and steered the story with his snide apathy, quite unlike the amiable character I'd assumed for him. Now he's chain-smoking and argumentative despite the fact he's reliant on people to help him move around the house. Oh, and the mother is now missing, not dead.

Essentially, it's still the same very vague idea of familial relationships. Practically, it's totally different. I love writing!!


  1. I love it when that happens. You realise one or two parts need changing and you have a whole new story :-)

  2. It happens less frequently than I implied with the title, though!

  3. I think you have to let the writing speak for itself a lot of the time and if that's what happens, follow and see where it goes!

  4. That happens to me all the time--a little tweak in one place and suddenly, a new story appears.

  5. Rebecca - yes, I try to, but that can have me staring into space for a very long time :-)

    Julie - I'm feeling sad for the story I left behind, though. I might have to save the characters and do something with them another time.

  6. That's what I love about writing - the characters surprise you by running away with it and you end up thinking "Hang on, who's meant to be in charge here?!" :0)

  7. Linda, that's exactly how I'm feeling!


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