I did such a clever thing this month. I’d be boasting about it to you, but for the small problem that I’ve realised I have to do it again and at this moment I haven’t a single clue how. Let me call it a writing thing so that maybe it’ll be of use to you too but really I’m lying down on the couch now and you’re getting out your pen, you’re asking me about my childhood.
Funny: I said that as a gag but childhood is relevant because the problem is to do with where you start something. Specifically where you start a story.
You know this. There is a reason why any story, any drama, any play starts at the specific point it does and not one pixel sooner or later. This is one reason I think prequels are murder and so rarely successful murder: they’re set before that starting moment and have to concoct a reason why.
What I did that I was so smug about for at least an hour was that I wrote a short story which in retrospect you will realise covers nearly two decades of time for the character. As you read it through, however, you see quite clearly that it actually physically takes place in probably less than half an hour.
The cleverness, and every time I write that word I’m doubting it more, was that I had this incredibly long story but I didn’t just find the right spot to start, I found the only spot where it could all be told in that short moment.
Actually, do have a read some time. You don’t need to for the point I’m trying to make but I’m unusually pleased with it. It’s called Still Life and you can read it over on the Prompted Tales website.
I haven’t been taught writing and I don’t know if there’s some university module on starting but I’m on a thing now where, dammit, the story takes place over 32 years and I have 45 minutes in which to tell it.
I’ll get there. And although I blinked a bit when I realised I was in exactly the same hole as I was before Still Life, I’m going to enjoy finding the right spot to tell this story.
Readers need a good start, writers need the right start but somewhere in the tale there is a potent, pregnant moment where it can all take place.
Okay. Okay. I think that’s right. And it’s helped, thank you. Can I see you again next week?