Friday, 23 October 2009

Novel, meet Tangent

I have been zipping around the country for Real Job this week, and chapter seven and the sorry mess that is chapter eight have kept me company on the endless train rides. If you travelled between London and Leeds recently and were intrigued by a girl muttering to herself and stabbing her pen into the air on several excited occasions in-between staring blankly out of the train window then yes, that was me. The staring blankly thing… I know I look like my one brain cell has sloped off somewhere to have a party but really it is hiding my furious intellect at work. Honest! I just hide that sort of thing really well. Ahem.

Moving on. So, these chapters. I am beginning to feel as if I am trying to recreate the perfect ice sculpture of Andie McDowell’s face in Groundhog Day. But somewhere within the sighing and staring, something wonderful happened. My characters decided to lead the way for me.

I was scribbling out a conversation between my main characters, and each sentence seemed to flow ever onward (and outward) quite nicely, and then I had to pause and see where I had landed up and if I could still spy the plot, far away beneath my fingers. Yup, there it was, shyly twinkling, but now what do I do with my beloved tangent? I think it steps a bit too far into the realm of fantasy.

The fun thing for me as a writer is that this book idea neatly encompasses reality and fantasy – I have one character whose traits are recognisable in all of us, and another character who is entirely my own bit of fun – as made up as a Jedi Knight, or a wizard – none of those, but something completely mine. But since the plot mainly concerns the recognisable character whose presence is firmly rooted in reality, I have to keep a balance and not shoot to the moon too far with the fantasy, as otherwise it will turn into a completely different tale. Oh but the temptation to let imagination soar and simply play… I had a merry few hours scribbling out something completely wacky and now I am wondering what I do with it. I think it is something I can alude to but not focus on. Sometimes I feel I have to tie a line to the plot and reel it out behind me as I go, and make sure everything stays within pulling distance.

And on a separate matter – I don’t see how I could ever have children, I can’t even keep control of my scarf. I watched it trail around commuters, train seats, and grub on the floor in merry abandon, despite me berating it and attempting to get it in a strangle hold. And look at the sky – look at it! Do I need a scarf with that blue gorgeousness and sunshine out there? Why wasn’t there a hint of that at 7am, hm?


musicobsessive said...

Just picking up on your last paragraph - children and trains - the answer is; don't. I sat opposite a family of four on the tube recently where the two small members were completely out of the control of the two larger ones. Eventually the mother hissed to her husband, 'We are not doing this again...ever!!'

As someone who knows, I sympathize. Give me a scarf any day of the week.

Jayne said...

Hi Martin - that made me chuckle - thanks!

Talking of train journeys as a child - I had a book where you had to cross off items when you saw them - like a sheep, or a pylon. It was so unfair though - on each page there would be the equivalent of a space station or something equally unlikely - even as a child I thought the publishers were having a laugh.

Kit Courteney said...

I gave up on the idea of children LONG ago as soon as I knew I was in love with pens and pencils.

If I had one and it touched my pen... I'd chop its fingers off. Seriously, I would.

Totally want to read your book.