Friday, April 03, 2009


A tall story?

I’d like to do some creative writing, but the problem is that I’m rubbish at continuity. I have my heroine tripping across town in an elegant silk blouse, having forgotten that the story opened with her complaining that this was the harshest winter she could remember, so everything must stop while I go back to change her wardrobe. Or I realise that my stalker is waiting for a bus half a page after he’s parked his car.

But even trickier than continuity is a credible story-line. We forgive the ludicrous plots our favourite well-known authors sometimes come up with because they’re entertainingly written, but you can’t start out in fiction with a story-line that has a nun trying to infiltrate a gun-running gang to raise a few bob for her convent. (Please don’t tell me you know one, who did just that).

Suitable names for your heroes and heroines are important too. Whilst I’m sure a Gerald or an Enid is perfectly fanciable and kissable in the real world, in fiction, they play the dependable or expendable roles only.

I’ve been mulling over a story recently about obsession, something I’m more familiar with than I’d like to be. Its most worrying characteristic is its ability, no matter what you’re doing, to find the ‘override’ button and replace anything sensible presently occupying your brain, with the rubbish this monster loves. After my son Rob died, I was obsessively preoccupied with the idea that it was all the fault of the surgeon. If we’d had more time, we’d have found a better surgeon, if the surgeon had paid more attention to Rob than to his ego, he’d have done a better job, if he hadn’t needlessly ripped out the root of the tongue, Rob would have been able to swallow again and if he’d had better aftercare he would have survived. Obviously, when I got ‘better’ I could see that nothing and no one could have saved Rob.

So, a story about obsession leading to madness and murder – haven’t I seen that somewhere before?

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