Fascinating how some writers need to talk their stories through, while others need to keep their stories quiet. Every writer is different. One creative process may work for you but be completely wrong for me.
Talking recently with Martyn Bedford, author of eight books for Bantam, Penguin and Bloomsbury publishers, I found we had entirely different approaches to getting our stories down.
I like to talk my story through. Tell it to a friend. This approach has always worked incredibly well for me with friends often adding some fabulous twist or idea to the story. But more than anything, explaining the plotline helps me sort the story out, find the parts that don’t work. I’ll even go to writer friends with a character or plot problem and ask for their help.
For me, talking a story through helps me find the right words. Helps organize structure. Which is the most exciting angle to start with? Is this the most engaging idea? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been running through a storyline when I’ve been hit by the perfect phrase, a better approach, a lightbulb change of direction moment.
But for Martyn talking the story through doesn’t work. He is forty thousand words into the first draft of his new novel for teenagers and young adults, The House that Jacaranda Built. He dislikes talking about his novels-in-progress before at least one draft is completed. For Martyn his idea can go stale after being “explained” too many times before it’s written. Martyn will however give a sort of precis.
“I’ll just say that it’s the tale of a family that offers refuge to a homeless teenager who they find asleep in the doorway of their café, and the consequences arising from their decision.” That’s it. That’s all Martyn will say.
Different writing processes are intriguing. I love looking at how different methods work for different people.
One thing is for sure. There is always the risk that if you talk too much about your book you’ll never end up writing it. Make sure any talk is matched with words on the page!
Do you love writing? Would you like to join The Art of Writing team in Tuscany? Let’s dream, plot, write, learn and grow as writers for a week together. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can tell you more about our annual creative writing retreats.