Friday, 24 February 2012

Stewart Lee's lesson for concerned writers everywhere

OK. I've never got this far before and I have discovered something beautiful as near the final parts of draft 1 and start thinking about draft 2. There are very definite themes running through the text that I wasn't expecting, and the one I had planned is actually fairly strong already and will require just a little shifting of the POV's thoughts to reinforce things. The beauty is that these have bubbled up organically so (to my ear at least) don't feel forced. It would be easy to make the themes too obvious and contrived, so I have to make sure I haul things back and make sure I don't leave the character's voice behind.

While writing the last four chapters I've been reading Stewart Lee's books about stand up comedy and his attempts to both annoy and captivate the audience at the same time. This, obviously, is not my intention (Radiohead tells us you have to gain an audience before trying to alienate them), but the idea that the audience is willing to follow you through plainly difficult moments if you can reassure them early on that you know where you're going, and everything will come together in the end, is something that I think is easy to forget. The reader needs confidence in the author. If it's your first go at a novel, that's quite difficult to achieve.

Part of the appeal of writing stuff here, I think, is the ability to prepare the reader (look, I'll just assume I'm going to have a reader) for the fact that the beginning is not traditional, but that things change as the story develops. It would be easy to pick up chapter one or two and, because of the nature of the voice, think: 'this person just can't write. Can't even spell!'

Some of the short fiction pieces that I plan to post here (character/event pieces written with a more traditional voice, but within the same history) will hopefully provide this sense of comfort that allows me to take the reader along when things go strange.

The other thing I've done, which makes me very happy, is writing the final line. I know how it all ends.

1 comment:

  1. Possibly the other point about Stewart Lee's comedy is that he has made a career out of following his own path and not trying to be crowd-pleasing. And also, because they are transcriptions of live events, they have an authentic voice.