Stories are lies and it’s all about me …
Yes, I know, lately it’s been all about me. My book launches, my book tour, my school visits … me, me, me! (As I’ve told my bosses over the years, if they can get that it’s all about me, then their lives will be so much easier).
I promised to share the things I learned at the Surrey International Writers Conference and I’ve taken a break from that due to the all-about-me-ness of the blog lately, but I’m back at it.
Children’s Author Richard Scrimger presented a workshop called Scrimger on Story. This guy is awesome – he’s writes novels about a kid who has an alien from Jupiter living up his nose (I hate when that happens), he’s got crazy Einstein hair and calls the writers he mentors his mentos (just don't mix them with diet coke - the mentos, not the writers). He brings a lot of passion and energy to his writing, which was evident when he jumped on and off the table during his presentation (you had to be there).
Here’s some of what I learned.
Stories are lies. The best lies start with the truth. The truth is a piece of grit at the heart of the story. The outside, the smooth pearl shell, is the lie. You need the truth and polish it up with the lie. The truth inside will drive your story. A dark truth is an irritant piece of grit that is a dark emotion. A dark truth can still have humour. Fear has to be a specific tangible thing you are afraid of. Anger is a great place to build a story from – when you tell lies about anger you can make it different, anger can turn into revenge. Revenge and anger can fuel the story and give it edge. All plots come from anger, fear and loss.
Stories are about people. The character has to rule and drive the book. All stories have secrets. Give the character a secret, something that not every character knows. Secrets have the power to draw us into the story. Weave the lies around the truth
Richard believes that writing is like a prayer and a striptease. Like a striptease, it is important to slow down your writing and it is all about technique. You are revealing yourself. Nothing gives you away like the lies you tell.
Writing is an act of faith. When you are a writer you are offering up a prayer to someone bigger than you are. The prayer is in the talking, the listening and the writing.