How I write

Crossing the barren wastes of plot
Crossing the barren wastes of plot

Experience has taught me that I simply cannot start at the beginning of a story and go on until I get to the end and then stop. I have remarked before that my writing process is less like laying a road than it is like connecting up islands of an archipelago. I start with two or three very definite pictures or ideas in my head, and usually have a basic idea of their position in relation to one another. Writing those down will induce five or six other islands to erupt from the seabed. And they drag more up behind them. After that it’s a matter of building bridges, or causeways, perhaps throwing in an artificial island, perhaps bypassing three or four of the early ones, after all.

It implies a phenomenal amount of rewriting, to ensure that character development and such things are consistent. But that’s probably good for me, and anyway, it’s the only way that I can do it.

I have discovered that, even if I plot the whole thing out in advance, some scene that’s meant to happen two thirds of the way through catches my imagination and refuses to let anything else past until I’ve written it. I then say ‘sod it’, and continue writing the bits that happen to catch my fancy at that moment.

Perhaps island-hopping just suits me.

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