Friday, 27 February 2015

Writing - Human behaviour in different contexts

When we write stories we are 'playing' with human behaviours in the hope that some of our readers find the 'game' entertaining.

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See nowt, say nowt, hear nowt!!

It has often been said that there are only around seven story lines from which we can weave our magic on the page but it has just struck me that in a sense that is like trying to categorise all of life into just seven scenarios. Those who have read my literary dribblings on previous occasions may remember that I have an aversion to those who constantly try and categorise everything as if they are terrified of randomness. You know the sort of things - '12 rules for writing novels' or '8 essential grammar checks' or whatever - when really, writing is an individual response to the way the writer feels about something. 

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Our writing depends on our personal history, experiences that have influenced our own lives, as well as interactions with others. The only thing for certain is that there are no rules. The grammar is a technical issue that facilitates reading or otherwise, the font type and size are again technical points but the ideas are what they are. This is why I have doubts about writers' block. Most of the time 'getting stuck' is about making choices or decisions. When you have an idea for a story the mechanics of getting it down on paper may cause some sticking points but the story is still the story.

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When you are writing and there is an incident you wish to include but it has become a bit of a sticking point then that is the time to use empathy so that you may better understand what it is you're trying to achieve. It may be that you feel you have never had that type of experience but it may just be a matter of scale. The first step is to think yourself into the situation and understand how you would feel in one of the players' shoes. Then write how it feels.

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Human behaviour depends largely on the situation in which people find themselves. We may often wonder what makes a killer or a thief, it may be that you could never imagine yourself becoming either of those things, but there is a plethora of work on the triggers that may change human behaviour into something previously unimaginable. One of the many benefits of the internet is the availability of information on almost any subject that you can imagine.
My 'guy' Patrick A Steele is a complex character, he has killed, and there is in 'I Have To Get It Right' and 'Inceptus' more background as to his early life that I hope will help readers understand where he is coming from even though it is accepted that he has done wrong. By providing context in this form it is my aim to encourage the readers of my books to better understand Steele and his behaviours in the situations that I create for him.

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I have been criticised by a few people for a few mistakes that I and my editors have missed in the past and it could be discouraging if taken to heart but mostly the criticisms are technical (not so much these days) or genre related. What is undiminished irrespective of criticism is the drive to write. I haven't had the rejections Ray Bradbury had to deal with (over 300), but it is an indication of how powerful the need to write is once you've put pen to paper. So if you are tempted remember the words of Morgan Freeman in The Magic of Belle Isle 

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Imagination is one of the most powerful forces known to man - be sure that you want to go in there as you  may never find your way out!

God Bless