Saturday, 11 May 2013

Writing - there but for the grace of God and cricket.

Bradford City Fire - May 11th 1985

A memorial service marking the 28th anniversary of the Bradford City football stadium fire, in which 56 people died, has taken place.
The fire broke out during a match between Bradford and Lincoln at the Valley Parade stadium on 11 May 1985.
I should have been there! It's true. I used to live next door to a guy who had a season ticket for the stand you see blazing above and, on occasion, a friend of his would offer me the ticket in the neighbouring seat if he couldn't go. On the day the ticket was offered to me I'd been asked to play cricket for a team on the outskirts of the city which I'd already accepted when John came round and offered the football ticket. As a result of me refusing John decided not to go. I can remember being in the field at the cricket match when people started pointing at the pall of smoke rising from somewhere in the centre of the city. It wasn't until I got home that the scale of the tragedy became known.

So I consider myself to be lucky that I'd made the decision to play cricket.

'A book is a friend that does what no friend can do - stay quiet when you want to think!'

When telling stories the decisions characters make have consequences. While telling our stories and relating decisions exploring the consequences of decisions can bring reality to the story but beware! Don't get bogged down in the details or else you will turn your readers off. Too many instances of 'if he did that this would happen' is frankly boring but it is important to humanise the characters by relating dilemma. The dilemma can be a useful tool in actually starting a story off on the road whether you call it making choices or something else. The point is that decisions are like the branches of  a tree and you can choose which one to take in the development of your tale.
We may not always be aware of it but decisions are happening in our writing all the time. In my current writing I am still making most of the decisions for the central character because I am only a couple of chapters into the work but once Paul has found his feet he will begin to drive the story and make more of the decisions for me. Sounds weird to those who haven't written much? It's almost an inevitably in the process. When you imbue your characters with personality traits you begin to set them free.

 From one of my favourite films 'The Magic of Belle Isle when author Monty Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman) is describing how his central character Jubal McLaws rides alone he passes on all the gory details of his parents demise at the hands of an Apache raiding party, to a family at the dinner table. The mother reassures the children that of course all that Monty said didn't happen as it was in a story. Monty's retort was 'It happened to Jubal' which sort of killed the conversation. At first I wasn't sure what was meant but having written a bit I know now.

God Bless