Digging for words

Where does that story come from? That is a question I'm often asked, the implication being that it must have its foundation in something or someone known to me in real life. Not so. I've just finished Steven Kings autobio/manual 'On Writing' (very well worth the read) and in it he says its like mining. You know there's something down there so you just have to dig - very carefully - in order to bring it up into the light of day.

Of course it's this 'knowing there's something down there' that is the raw beginnings of a tale. As I've blogged in the past, it could be an object or an incident or sometimes a person's behaviour that fires the urge to dig for those of us who are on the lookout for this mother lode. It's true that for most writers, especially those new to the practice of fiction, the incident or whatever may come from within, but I can honestly say that none or my characters and none of my story lines have come intact - at least to the best of my knowledge - from within myself or my experience. I can also honestly say that all of my stories must be an amalgam of the many thousands of things, people, places that have been taken into my sub consciousness over the 76 years of my life.

All my stories are told through the viewpoint of a single strong character. I don't do the god-like thing of telling you the tale through the minds of two or more people. This is because I want you to forget about me and think only of the viewpoint character when you read my stuff. I want you to identify with a crippled soldier who is trying to conquer a mountain unaided or a middle aged lady dog lover whose life is shot away or a businessman caught up in an alien system or, (my April 1 story of the month), an attractive lady weather forecaster threatened with the bullet.

Right now I'm writing three short stories and a novel. What about? A young black boxer who has had enough of wrecking himself and his opponents; a man who meets with a big big problem whilst on a narrow boat holiday; a twelve years old boy on his first solo excursion away from his troubled home, and a young woman of mixed race who wants to beat the boys as a professional cue-games player. I don't know where these nuggets (Steven King's word for it) came from but I do know what made me start to dig down for them.

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