Posted by on Mar 31, 2006 in Uncategorised | 3 Comments

Many writers seem to drift around in their writing, sometimes feeling it’s like a warm bath that bouys them up and supports everything in their lives – and at other times that it’s a cold maelstrom sucking them down to a miserable death. I tend to think that what water needs is a good pier to sit on, to extend this metaphor to absurd lengths.

If you don’t have a frame or structure around your writing, you don’t have any way to know how you’re doing, when you’ve finished, or what you’ve achieved. Sometimes you may not even know what you’re trying to do.

I encourage my students to write a sentence that states the intention of a story, novel, poem or flash and to keep it at the top of their work as a reminder of their intentions. If the piece starts to move away from those intentions it’s time to step back and decide if this is actually a different piece of work, or whether you’re going to rein it back into your original idea. Both are equally valid options, and both avoid the awful realisation that the story story that turned into a novella that became a play and then a novel is actually just a horrible mish-mash of unfinished thoughts and good ideas that went nowhere.


  1. Richard
    31st March 2006

    Did you ever read Melville’s Billy Budd? We get all invested as readers in an important character, then he’s killed off and the majority of the novel happens. Did Melville get distracted or bored with the character? Interesting. Beautiful photo!

  2. Tribeless
    3rd April 2006

    Your blog is going from strength to strength Kay. Well done. I enjoy being challenged on, or made to think on, ‘my’ process of writing.

    Mark Hubbard

  3. Kay Sexton
    3rd April 2006

    I think Melville is an interesting example – he rarely did what people ‘thought’ he should do in a novel, but that doesn’t mean his books didn’t follow his intentions perfectly – maybe he wanted to write about what happens to those left behind when somebody dies – Billy Budd is a fascinating study, in a way, of somebody who is ‘worth’ more dead … or has more value to those who survive, anyway


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