Different writers have different ways of working; some plan out everything they are going to write, do all their research, make loads of notes and tehn start at the beginning working their way through. Some are similar but with less pencilled in detail and an allowance for unexpected thoughts, ideas and inspirations as they go along. Some have the brilliant start and then have to wander along trying to maintain momentum and trying to keep faith with the brilliance of their first words/sentence/page/chapter. Some know where they’re going but have to fiddle and wrestle with the beginning and middle to make the conclusion work.
I’m a most disorganised writer; I start with an idea – sometimes just the expression on a person’s face, sometimes a glimpse of a building, or part of a building – a battered old front door for instance. I usually have a sort of idea, sometimes a more detailed set of thoughts – a group of characters, an incident, those who live in a house, but quite often i set off on the journey of my story and work my way through, ideas gradually crystallising, unexpected things woven into the fabric of what I’m writing… and usually with a bit of mental wrestling and a lot of graft something emerges which is complete – rough ad ready and needing much work, but finished.
Somehow, for no apparent reason, my latest novel is refusing to gel in the very last chapters. There are unanswered questions, plot lines unresolved, characters who have mysterious motives, unknown even to me – let alone the other people in the story! It’s a version of a country house murder mystery, and I thought it would be fun to write – and stupid I thought it would be quite straight forward!! Not a bit! It’s jolly difficult and my hat goes off to Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and all those others who so seamlessly entertain with a fixed location and static set of characters.
In the middle of the night, last night, a sudden thought came to me… I don’t know what I was thinking of, my mind drifting along and I mused on people who have the same name as someone famous… for example my dear friend Ann Bancroft. She has just published her own book, the story of her spiritual journey which I have mentioned here. She’s forever having the old joke said to her, about the actress Ann Bancroft, who maybe most famously played the part of Mrs Robinson in ‘The Graduate’… my ponderings turned into thoughts and from those thoughts a way through my writing morass seemed to appear…
I must say I feel a sense of relief that now I can properly focus on what I’m writing and get the thing done!!
…and here’s a link to my friend’s book: