Gordon Anthony, author of the really rather good novel In The Shadow Of The Wall visited this afternoon to deliver a talk on writing. These are some of the notes I was able to scribble down as the afternoon progressed. As ever, questions and clarifications are welcome in the comments!
Gordon Anthony began his life working in the banking industry before a genetic condition caused him to lose his sight. As his vision deteriorated, he gave up working to take up his ‘hobby’ (writing) full time. His first novel In The Shadow Of The Wall was published in January 2010, and has been very well received (check out Amazon for some ‘real’ reviews!).
During the course of the afternoon, he covered the following aspects of the writing process…
IDEAS / INSPIRATION
Gordon started by discussing where we can get ideas for our writing. For him, a lot of his ideas come from looking at a character (in another book or film) and asking the simple question “What if…?” As he said, he likes to take an idea and run with it at a tangent.
He also made the point that there are no new ideas. This reminds me of something I was told in University, namely that there are only seven stories in the world. The argument is that every story is a variation on one of the following seven ideas:
• [wo]man vs. nature
• [wo]man vs. man
• [wo]man vs. the environment
• [wo]man vs. machines/technology
• [wo]man vs. the supernatural
• [wo]man vs. self
• [wo]man vs. god/religion
Interestingly, there is a good variation of this which states that there are only 20 ‘plots’ (in the film sense)… check it out HERE. Either way… there are very few reasons for having nothing to write about! 😉
Gordon points out that there are two ways of getting going: Extensive planning and meticulous research… OR, “…let’s see what happens!”
As I read it, he was pointing out that there is no “one size fits all” solution to getting started. Both methods have their strengths (and weaknesses), but one interesting idea Gordon did highlight was the idea was to be flexible as you write. If your characters end up going in a direction you weren’t anticipating, let them. This is often much better than trying to force them to follow a predesigned route through the narrative….
It is really important that you have peace and quiet when you want to concentrate on your writing. This is something I find as well. I get more done late at night when there is nothing to distract me than I do when there is noise around… But, of course, everyone finds there own way of working that suits them. If you haven’t tried the ‘peace and quiet’ routine yet, give it a bash! If nothing else, it is good practice for the exam where you will have to work in quiet. 😉
END OF PART ONE
I’ll add more tomorrow, but that’ll have to do for just now. As I’ve said, feel free to add your own thoughts and corrections as necessary. These note are based on what I could scribble as we went, so there are gaps…