Monday #406


We finished up our second Cunningham and Petrov story last week, and we are about to start work on the third which will take part during The Mountain of Adventure. I hope to start publishing it on Fridays in February to give us time to have a decent amount written first. Lately we’ve been finishing a chapter as late as Thursday night before a Friday morning publishing – and let me tell you, that’s not the best way to write a story!

My 2020 in books and Blyton

and

2020 Birthday and Christmas present round up

Alicia took it into her head to evolve a kind of demon-chant whenever she appeared or disappeared on the stage. She only thought of it a few minutes before rehearsal, and hadn’t time to tell Darrell or Sally, so she thought she would just introduce the weird little chant without warning.

And she did. She appeared with her sudden, surprising leaps, chanting eerily. ‘Oo-woo-la, woo-la, riminy-ree, oo-woo-la …’

Moira rapped loudly. The rehearsal stopped. ‘Alicia! What on earth’s that? It’s not in the script, as you very well know.’

Alicia causes chaos by suddenly ad-libbing lines for the pantomime in In the Fifth at Malory Towers. Later she threatens to quit the pantomime altogether, throwing Darrell into a panic as she can’t possibly rewrite all those scenes in three weeks!

This is a bit what it’s like writing fan fiction at the last-minute. Your characters suddenly try to go off in an entirely different direction, and you can’t let them because it would contradict what’s already been published and read!

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2 Responses to Monday #406

  1. Your enthusiasm for the subject never ceases to impress. I’m not entirely sure how you manage to write so much! I do, though, think you may be ignoring one of your own guidelines, as I’m sure I read somewhere on your site a piece of guidance for contributors, in regards to fiction, that they should finish the story before publishing it!

    If you write well, which I think you do, at some point the characters should take over, and should dictate the path of the story to you. If you are struggling for development of the storyline, things are not going as they should: a character must, to some degree, have a natural development, an inevitable development, just because he/she must act in accordance with the character traits you’ve previously established.

    Your latest post suggests you are fighting against this, and actually rejecting developments suggested by the characters. Re-writing earlier parts of a story is a natural part of the process, but it can’t occur if you are publishing parts of an unfinished tale. Ideas which suggest themselves in the course of the narrative should be embraced, not fought against! It is tough having to rewrite earlier bits of the tale, but it often makes for a better story.

    In Enid’s case, I suspect that she was a good enough writer to understand this, which is why the Five Find Outer novels are so strong, except for the last one. When she wrote ‘Banshee Towers’, she was simply writing-by-numbers: phoning it in, instead of writing it properly. The difference between actually writing a story before publishing it, and just bunging down on paper whatever comes to mind simply to meet a deadline, is the difference between ‘The Invisible Thief’ (a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie) and ‘Banshee Towers’ (a potboiler).

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    • Fiona says:

      You’re right – I do break that rule and a lot of others too! I prefer contributors to have finished their stories mostly because otherwise I run the risk of publishing a few chapters and then them never sending me any more, which has happened a few times. At least I know I’ll finish a story.

      Normally I do listen to my characters and let them lead – only reigning them in now and again when the sections of ‘banter’ get too long and unwieldy. The difficulty with the Cunningham and Petrov stories are that they are fitting literally in the middle of an established story, so we have to stick to certain timelines/locations/events so that we don’t contradict the original books. So sometimes we work out what seems to be a reasonable storyline to fill in the gaps; write a certain amount and then find that actually it might have been better if we’d done things slightly differently. With Sea I was worried that we’d given Anatoly, Bentley and Thompson too long to spend searching and we were running the risk of making them look incompetent. If we hadn’t already published certain chapters I may have had the chief – I can’t recall his name right now – ignore Anatoly’s demands and delay them setting out for a few days. But it worked out OK in the end (I hope).

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