Favourite writing

 A few days ago, Deborah Jenkins wrote her blog on this site giving us a lovely quiz about how weather affects our writing. This jogged my memory of a particular day when I was trying to write in adverse weather conditions. I was indoors, in the warm when I wrote what turned out to be my favourite passage in Out of Silence.

It was a very windy day when I was trying to write the planned chapter of the novel; the beginning of a storm. I kept looking out of my study window to watch the tall trees in my garden bend and sway. The sound of the wind and the movement in the garden could not be ignored. Each time I began to write my attention was hauled towards the dramatic scenario playing out in front of me. I gave up with my plans. Instead I let my protagonist look out of his window into the imagined park opposite. First he watched the weather then the whole scene unfolded in my mind and I wrote it just because I had to! I wasn’t going to use the story that emerged of a child needing help in a park, but then I realised how useful it would be to emphasise my character’s  insecurity about being a man yet helping a lone schoolgirl plus causing him to reflect on the loss if his own child.

Once it was in the hands of my editor, I expected the scene to be deleted. But somehow it survived.

I have a similar unplanned chapter in Red Cabbage Blue.  My protagonist more or less wrote it by herself. In fact, I so enjoyed being her scribe when Adele fetched her cat that I ended up weaving it into the book because it gave the reader so much information about her. Again I waited for the reasoned voice of the editor - the book was so long, surely this less serious chapter would be struck out? But no, it made it through. 

The odd thing is that I do not use either of these chapters when promoting my books at events. I have considered possible reasons:

  1. They don’t necessarily portray the essence of the book.
  2. They are too emotive.
  3. The cat scene may not appeal to more serious readers.
  4. I feel as if the characters wrote them, not me.
  5. They aren’t near the beginnings of the books.
  6. Just because they are my own favourites, that doesn’t make them good.
  7. I do not wish to invite criticism because they are my favourite pieces.
  8. They were too easy to write.

And now I’m looking at that list and thinking ‘That’s ridiculous! If they are my favourites, they might appeal to potential readers. Plus I will probably really enjoy it.’

So can I ask anyone who has written a book or short story, how they choose the passage to read? Even flash fictioners may experience some difficulty, although the choice there may be which one, rather than which pages!

Annie Try writes contemporary Christian fiction. Her most recent books are the Dr Mike Lewis stories which feature his unusual clients, who are adept at uncovering mysteries.

Post a Comment