Working Story

I originally posted this way, way back in August 2012. Yes, I’ve been putting up posts since then! Did miss a year in the middle, though.

This week though, as the first of my writing groups starts again, and I’m thinking about structure, I revisited this post, and decided that I liked it enough to share it all over again. Sometimes, when I think the story has worked, I don’t want to retell it in any other way.

Cath Humphris

One of the first handouts I was given at University was a list of seven points that defined the short story.  It had been compiled by Dilys Gater, in her book, Short Story Writing*.   At last, I thought, learnable theory I could apply in my writing.  Better still, someone else had worked it out for me.

Yet, for several weeks after that I was unable to finish a story outside of class-work. I never lacked ideas, my writers diary was crowded with characters, scenes and fragments of conversation, but they remained notes. I told myself not to worry, I was completing our set exercises on the mechanics of the simple linear plot, and that was what counted.

Until I took my results to the tutorial.

‘It’s got no life,’ my tutor said, handing back my assignment.  ‘Start again.’

‘All this work?’

She waved aside my folder of notes and handouts. ‘Count it as background,’ she said. ‘Forget…

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