Many congratulations to Laura at Miss Read, who is chuntering relentlessly through the first draft of her children’s novel.

Like many people, I’ve been stalled on the first few thousand words or so of mine. It’s a good few thousand words, but I’m caught in that endless loop of writing and rewriting that fragment.

It’s the age old story, really. I haven’t been able to let go and let the thing fly in the knowledge that the first draft will most probably sit there as a big mess before I can get to the satisfying bit – rewriting it, tidying it up.

But there’s another problem. The novel is a version of a script I’m currently working on – it occurred to me that this particular story would make a terrific, tight little crime novel.

But the story began to open out almost immediately. It  expanded in unexpected narrative and psychological directions. The characters began to expand and deepen, and as their back-stories emerged, they started to do things I didn’t want them to do.

The characters in the script all have very precise needs and wants, and their motivations are specific and controlled and dovetail nicely with the behaviour of the others. In the novel, I found myself going into far more psychological detail. 

Trouble is, that’s begun to blow back into my script and the versions of the characters in the novel began to conspire – behind my back – to liberate the ones in the script.

Throw off your shackles! they stated. Stand up for your rights as imaginary constructs! Be free!

My clear-thinking about the script has begun to muddy. All those clean lines of characterisation began to blur. And we can’t have that.

Something’s had to give, and while I’m writing the script, which’ll be for several more months yet, the novel will have to lay locked away. When the script is finished, I’ll let those characters live again, in a parallel universe.

So that’s one thing I’ve learned I can’t do:  write a script and a novel about the same story at the same time.

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