Friday, July 4, 2008

On Planning

Stephen King's 'On Writing' is a wonderful little book. Starting with
his earliest memories, King explains how he writes before describing
the horrific car accident that he survived while writing the book. The
description of the accident is classic King, underplayed and all the
more terrifying for it. I started to tell Himself about it but was
pulled up ''Another book about writing! Why don't you just write your
own?" It's exactly what every writer needs to hear and guaranteed to
piss one off too. It could have turned nasty except that he was just
repeating what King was saying "Read a lot; write a lot".

King advocates writing while the story is fresh, extracting it as
carefully as a fossil from the ground with as little plotting as
possible. It's an attractive idea. Excavate the fossil and then flesh
it out on the later drafts instead of blasting it out with a
sledgehammer plot. It seems a more sensible way than planning every
single step only to find that the actual writing is slowed to a crawl
by constant reference to notes and research. My novel is in the
planning stage and doesn't show much progress. (I'm finding it
difficult to shut the door while I write, so much for our open plan
living room.) The problem is that the story keeps changing; the fossil
has life and metamorphoses every day. If I'd excavated sooner then
perhaps it wouldn't be the monster it's become.

At the moment it's called 'Ground Down'; the story of one woman's run
in with a rogue belt sander which kills her friends and family. As she
faces the renegade machine, she finds perspective on her pettiness and
immaturity. Has the King influence gone too far?

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