04 Feb Dispatches from a Golden Egger – Part Two
Contribution by Andrew Wright
The Way Round
“Be clear about what you want to say and then keep on trying to say it until there’s just enough words to get it across and not one more.”
A very wise editor
There’s a curious relationship between writing a story and thinking about writing one. When we’re in the throes of spraying our creativity about (picture yourself in a garden with that aforementioned hose, one moment it’s writhing about like an angry snake, almost wriggling free of your hands, the next dripping weakly before running unfathomably dry) thinking and writing become one thing. Of course we need to think before we write – walking, exercising, going for a jog all help that – but also writing is thinking and it works the other way round too. Sometimes splurging it out onto the page is the best way to at least know the shape of the particular creative itch (apologies, mixed metaphor there) you need to scratch.
The conundrum for me as I’ve wrestled one mother of a story out onto the page over the last five years runs as follows: Is there a more efficient way to make this creative journey from A to B? A way, you know, that avoids those mind-numbing cul-de-sacs and increasingly soul-sapping rewrites (you’ll know the sort of thing *grits teeth, cracks knuckles over keyboard* ‘I will absolutely definitely manage it this time) when you try, and fail, to get everything just right. Beginnings and endings are particularly tricky, saggy middles are also a danger, so, in a nutshell, is there a way to ensure in weaving our tale we get something recognisably story-shaped that efficiently pulls together the main themes without endless, infinite rewrites?
Well, I can announce, reasonably confidently if my writerly instincts are anything to go by – and let’s face it I’m in real trouble anyway if they’re not – that there is. Now, we’re not talking about expunging rewrites and editing, they’re inevitable, as integral to the writing process as washing up to cooking. We’re talking about having a different way to solve the bits that don’t work outside simply trying to write yourself out of them. It’s called a BookMap and it’s exactly what it says on the tin (although it doesn’t come in a tin); it is a map that helps you on the journey through your book.
Learning about the BookMap and applying it to my story – actually stories, they’re four story worms fattening in my head built around the adventures of Gareth and his friends – has been a total ‘and-why-did-no-one-tell-me-this-before’ moment. BookMap’s are marvellous and in the next post I’m going to tell you how one’s worked for me.