Slave to structure

I started ‘seriously’ writing my novel in December, using Randy Ingermanson’s 10-steps as a starting point. I know, I know, it sounds bonkers, but it works for me. Why? Because I’m a slave to structure – a hangover from my PhD training – but this is slowly changing. My writing tutor, Ray French, is trying his best to help with the rehabilitation process. I had no time for it before but another writing tutor, Beccy Stirrup, patiently went through the process with a bunch of us and I realised I had a plot, but no real story to tell. So I invested a decent chunk of time in the process and it was difficult. I have to stop thinking in linear terms when I write, which is difficult when I switch from the corporate writing that I do, to something without any boundaries or brief. So the 10 steps have helped my OCD for structure and control, but I feel it’s worth noting that I don’t think labelling them as the ‘10 steps’ does the process justice.

Using a ‘step by step’ process suggests a linear format; you have to complete one step before moving on to the next. But I haven’t done it like this. I have been writing steps 1-6 almost in parallel, then going back and rewriting and rewriting whenever character developments take place. The process has gelled the story in my mind, I can see the characters, I can smell their environment, I can hear their monologues and their conversations. So, as a starting point, it’s helped clear the clutter so that there is a story, rather than a fixed plot to the book. So you see, not all bonkers, is it?

Tomorrow – the scrum of Saturday lunchtime at Huddersfield Library on World Book Day…

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