I’ve found my baddie

“So, Kevin, how’s the novel going?”

(Asked nobody. Ever)

Well……

As the writing of my first draft stumbles along, the research has really gathered momentum. I’ve been (metaphorically of course) to most continents and nervously used some suspicious search keywords in order to get as much accurate historical facts to back up my imaginary story. Hopefully rendering it seemingly non imaginary. If you see what I mean.

Rightly or wrongly, I’m looking to everything around me for inspiration, little details which all form part of personalities and their stories.

Watching a really sweet film, Our Souls At Night – huddled around the laptop (the television has long since been relegated to the loft) with my beautiful wife – I started to really focus on how the script, directing and the incredible acting (Robert Redford) hand us the characters with subtle moments and gestures.

At one point, Redford’s character (Louis) crosses the road. Such a simple piece of action yet full of little gems. He initially is distracted, his mind elsewhere, he catches movement in his peripheral vision and momentarily pauses. The car driver slows and indicates being happy to wait. Louis then flicks a smile and slightly raised hand before carrying on his way.

It made for an engaging moment, with so much more than just a man crossing the road.

I’m determined that my book will be full of such detail. The image of the moment providing a window into the past (and indeed futures) of my characters.

A new addition is (without spoiling the plot too much) a ‘baddie’, who’s actions from the past forever haunt the present for **** and will soon become an obsession of *** too. I’m delving deep into the history of ***** ****** and giving him a journey too.

Anyway.

Back to it.

In answer to the question: It’s going slowly, but I’m loving every moment of it.

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Write. Read, naturally. But, mostly, WRITE.

Dogs That Don’t Look Like Their Owners.

So, I have a working title for my book. Oh yes, it’s fairly rolling along now. To be fair (to me), in a lot of ways, it is. About three pages of story plus another four pages of writing, most of it simply recording my two main protagonists as they reveal themselves to me.

Nobody can ‘teach’ me to write, but my characters journey from their own private worlds, gradually infiltrating my cotton wool head and then into the lap top, was definitely encouraged, nay prompted, cajoled even, by an author I rather admire.

I reviewed On Writing by A.L. Kennedy (HERE) back in November, I’ve devoured the book twice and am seduced by its bleak reality and gallows humour, as well as by the seeds the pages plant within my own brain’s writing section.

The lesson, although their are no ‘lessons’, I am most employing the learnings of is having the ability and openness to let characters show themselves to me. Let them tease me, whisper to me, shout at me. But let them do it in their time. Since I stopped trying to push imaginary clothes, ages, parents, musical tastes, muddy finger nails and an unlimited number of other tiny details these characters need, through my fingers into a forced biography, they really have come alive.

On telling me, for example, that she was Jewish, of Brazilian descent and brought up in Belgium, **** ****** has set me off on a voyage of discovery. I speak to her regularly, asking her for more little nuggets which will help define her path through my tale. As for *** *********, well he’s a character……

Which brings me to one of the other skills Kennedy has unwittingly discovered in me. Never mind ‘write what you know’, more importantly, and more interestingly, ‘know what you write’. Now, whilst a trip to Brazil, to find the obscure town where my friend, ****, was born, is probably not within the household budget, the internet is a great resource. As are books, newspapers, the radio, podcasts and any other well of knowledge I can find.

It may be true that I only have about three pages of ACTUAL WRITING, I am building up quite a library of knowledge to endeavour to tell the story **** and *** are revealing to me in as much detail as I possibly can.

So when you see a hairy arsed builder breaking up concrete, seemingly lost in his or her thoughts, don’t assume they’re thinking about football, page three or Stella Artois, they might just be in the process of creating a wonderful piece of art.

Keep on keeping on…..