What do you call it when you know where a story has to go, but aren’t quite sure how to get there? My Timelines are great at framing the content of a narrative, but quite often I get stuck on the details.
For example; in ‘A falling of Angels’ my lead character gets tied up rescuing a couple of half wild children while trying to solve a gangland crime no one else seems bothered about. Evidence is in short supply, and even his special abilities are no help. To simply dismiss it and move on leaves a stray storyline. I hate unresolved plot details, and couldn’t leave the loose end hanging. Loose ends annoy me.
Unfortunately at these times, inspiration is so often in short supply, and I end up mooning about trying to prise the narrative loose by force, which rarely works. Nothing shifts the logjam. Weeks go by without significant progress. I find myself rewriting whole sections prior to the story blockage, tidying up sentences, chopping paragraphs and doing general housekeeping on the narrative. It’s like a wall you can peer over and see the end of your tale, but can’t see the vital literary devices in between. The angles are all wrong. Like a map of your destination which doesn’t include directions from the town you’re starting at, it frustrates.
Books on writing style don’t help; they’re too general. Research and experience can only take you so far. The song has stopped, the choir has faltered to an embarrassed silence, and no-one seems sure where to pick up the chorus.
At times like these I usually dig out the cook books, do the chores, walk the dog, stare at the horizon, bake bread (Always a good one), but this time round the break came on Monday when Angie was reading me a piece on story telling and the importance of narrative from one of Daniel H Pinks self help series “Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future”. I don’t generally read self help books myself, they’re too full of stuff I already seem to know. However, Angie likes them. So for the sake of a quiet life I do the old nod and smile. She even let me stop her and illustrate the technique she was telling me about, and how widespread its use is in advertising and marketing. While I was doing this, a stray thought kicked off about how to bodge two plot lines into a seamless whole. Completely out of context, off the wall, but I suddenly had a vision of how difficult it would be to beat up someone who knows exactly where the punch is coming from, and is quick enough to dodge. From there the idea branched back to a couple of other odd story items, and all of a sudden the choir has found the page, and there’s the door in the wall I was looking for. Wide open. Bing! Just like magic.
Now the way is clear, all I have to do is write it.