Hello to you. Thanks for visiting this website. There will be irregular postings here from me, whenever the urge strikes. It won't always be about writing. Thinking about writing leads so often into thinking about other things.
At the moment I'm thinking a lot about the second novel, which is sitting in front of me in notebooks, in computer documents and in bits of printout, and resembles a vast unwieldy jigsaw puzzle. I've always loved puzzles and The White Lie reflects that, with its layers, its blind alleys, its red herrings. I never wanted to be a writer of crime fiction but I can see the attraction of plotting one.
The second novel concerns a love triangle of sorts, as it says on the home page. I've never written a love story and it's presenting interesting challenges. One of things I'm finding is that the style of The White Lie might be one I also apply here. I'm finding that layers, blind alleys and red herrings are introducing themselves... to say that they're "introducing themselves" feels more accurate than to say that I'm introducing them, because I'm at a stage in which the basic plot is set and the characters, and now the plot and the characters are interacting madly in the subconscious and sort of writing the novel for me. It can feel like that sometimes, like automatic writing, delivered up. I hear characters talking to each other and write down what they say. I'm beginning to see various scenes from the book playing out in my inner cinema.
I've become interested in techniques for writing love stories. Because The White Lie might have become - for good or ill - a sort of template of how I write fiction, devices I used in the novel are presenting themselves again: flashbacks, multiple points of view, the subjectivity of memory. I'm interested in ways of adding complexity to what's a fairly simple tale, and the obvious way to do that is by allowing characters to be wrong about things, but absolutely confident that they're right, and not to contradict them too much. The narrator can steer the reader a little. The reader can decide the rest. It's good to leave a little slack for interpretation, but not too much. Too much is just irritating. More than once, I've thrown a well-reviewed book at the wall and shouted "But I want to know what REALLY HAPPENED!" It seems that although I love a mystery, I can't bear one either, not an unresolved one at least. Ambiguity on the final page: that's probably my least favourite thing in literature.
One of the things that bugs me about current ways of classifying fiction is that love stories written by women are all too often categorised (and all too often dismissed) as 'chick-lit'. Publishers conspire in this by giving beautiful books embossed pink and silver covers. I read Lady Chatterley's Lover recently and made a one page list of what happens in the story, and the summary was similar to many so-called 'chick-lit' novels. Perhaps if it had been written by Davina Helen Lawrence, it might not be considered so iconic a book. What struck me when I re-read it is how beautifully and simply constructed it is. On the face of it, it's a simple love triangle, but the experience of reading it is quite different. The quality of the observations, the diversions and meditations, the detail that's presented unevenly, richly in some areas and skirted over in others: it's all this that makes Lady Chatterley's Lover triumphantly non-chick-litty. I've read it twice and I'm still not sure how DH pulled it off.
Some books are more than the sum of their parts, and nowhere is this more true than in probably my favourite ever novel, The Great Gatsby. Perhaps it's what characterises a classic.
Hello to you. Thanks for visiting this website. There will be irregular postings here from me, whenever the urge strikes. The blog won't always be about writing. Thinking about writing leads so often into thinking about other things.