Sunday, November 06, 2005

Time well spent

I’ve held onto this idea for a looong time: WW1, a conscientious objector escapes from Princetown Work Centre, and while wandering across Dartmoor, develops shamanic abilities which are put to use when he arrives in a Cornish community shattered by the war.

Well, as a semi-formed log-line, it sounds alright, but as I’ve finally delved more deeply into the who, where, why and how of it this week, I’ve realised - it doesn’t work.

It damn well doesn’t work. For four years I’ve been mulling this idea, weakly thinking that one day I’ll sit down and write it and prove to myself that I am, in fact, some kind of storytelling genius.

Four years I’ve lived with this illusion, every day experiencing deepening levels of cognitive dissonance as I’ve tried to reconcile the life I’d chosen with the one I knew I needed.

One week, or, if you prefer, a combined fifteen hours of work later, I realise.

It’s a crappy idea.

Y’damned fool.

Category: Writing


  1. It doesn't work yet. Now is when you prove that you're a writer. You have to make it work. Go back to basics. What is your story really about? What's the theme that keeps drawing you back to it? Something has kept this thing alive in your head all this time. Think of all the DVD commentaries you've listened to where the writer says "this story started out as A, but then I realized it was really about B." Or "we originally set it here, but we couldn't make that work, so we set it there." That's your job, to crack the story like a walnut. End of pep talk. Now don't make me bitch slap you like a hysterical girl...

  2. Excellent pep talk.

    I'd written the post already knowing how I was going to fix the problem, but thought it would read better over two days. Because I'm vainer than I look.

    The lesson here is not to carry things around in my head - I won't know if they've got their own legs or not until I force them onto paper.

    Anyway, I've done some repurposing, and most of my original thoughts were sound, they just didn't gel. One small change unifies them all. I think I've got it.

    Now, about that slap...