Thursday, April 26, 2007

The writing process among other things...

You know... I hear a lot about different writer's approaches to their craft. And I'm often keen to experiment with different ideas, but one thing that has never worked for me is The Character Sheet.
I've heard of many writers who fill these in before they start, so they know their characters in depth and I'm so in awe of this. It sounds utterly organised and professional, but it just doesn't work for me. Oh, I've filled in the charts, but for me it's like forcing toothpaste from an empty tube. Until I start writing, those lists of characteristics in the charts just never feel REAL. Once I start writing, the REAL details of my characters come to me. It's as if they exist in another dimension and the process of writing uncovers or awakens them.
For example, right now I'm half way through a book and I don't know who my hero's father is. I know he plays an important role in my hero's story. Fatherhood is a significant theme... again, you might well be saying:)
OK, I could sit down and force this father into life, or I can keep writing until he arrives on the page. And I know he will, when I really need him. Sounds like magic? It is, but it's why I love writing the way I do.

Oh and here's a bit of name dropping..
Today, my good friend Lindy Nelson Carr, Queensland Minister for the Environment, got me to pose in a photo with her to launch the Premier's Literary Awards.

Tee, hee. The Literary Board would have conniptions if they knew a M&B author was helping to launch their lofty award for proper literatishoore.


Anonymous said...

There has been much discussion of the process versus the more organic writer. I mostly know what I am going to make/say/do as it happens, though I think I do planning in my 'behind thinks' a la The Chrysalids!!! Congratulations on your helping to launch The Lofty Award!!!

Barbara Hannay said...

I love your 'behind thinks' expression, 2paw. I had one of those at 4 am this morning. And I suddenly "knew" who Jacob's father was/is. He walked into a scene I've already started and I think he's there to stay.

Anonymous said...

"Until I start writing, those lists of characteristics in the charts just never feel REAL. Once I start writing, the REAL details of my characters come to me."

Barb - this is exactly how the process works for me. The first thing they open their mouth and say seems to define them for me. I find I go back and layer the H and h after the book, as they are the people I need to know inside out. BTW, ITHOTO is on its way to the Caribbean... my fingers are itching already but i will not touch it!

Anonymous said...

Opps - forgot to add. I bet we have bigger literary luvvies in the UK than Oz. I think that's one game we could beat you at!

Barbara Hannay said...

Just to prove how organic my writing is -- that "father' I was so excited about the other day has become Jacob's uncle.
Phillipa, interesting that you have a similar approach. I do my layering as I go. Can't move on till I've worked and worked over the previous bit. I waste time that way, because I still make changes after I've finished, but it seems to be the way I'm wired.
Have a fabulous holiday!!
I do hope Byrne and Fiona enjoy their trip to the Caribbean.