Plots, Quartets and Daily Life

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At the moment it feels like my novel manuscript is becoming a living breathing part of my everyday life! In the last week, several incidents have occurred that have caused me to think directly about the text I am writing and relate powerfully to the action one of my characters is engaged in… It’s getting a bit spooky. They say life’s a stage, but this is really going too far!

Of course this is all really just because the book is very top of mind for me right now. Therefore almost automatically I relate everything I see and hear back through the filter of that narrative. None the less, it is amusing to see how my actual life is being pulped for tid bits for my characters to deal with. Art imitates life? All fiction is autobiographical? Before we go down that road, let me reassure you that no-one is going to miraculously appear in the book thinly disguised… A few of my characters are fairly dubious and end up playing with pretty benign ideas in rather malicious ways…I don’t think anyone’s gonna go… “Ahh that’s me!”

None the less, meeting up with an old friend I have not seen for 21 years and ending up discussing our shared passion for the hidden history of Johannesburg was a bit of a curve ball! Hopefully it is an indicator of how spot on the themes that I have identified for this book really are. My research has led me to identify a few aspects of JHB life as dominant themes in the lives of most of its inhabitants and much of the action explores these notions… to have the one of history and identity so casually uncovered over a nostalgic beer was a pleasant and fascinating surprise!

The first quartet of chapters is now written. This is the opening salvo, the establishing shot if you will, of the novel. I will now spend some time tightening it and weaving it closer together before settling down with the second quartet to plot it out and figure out which stories belong where within in its weave.  As the name implies, there are 4 parts to each quartet but these fall into 3 sections in each of the 4 parts of the book. Yes, a large physical structure to house all this thinking. I knew studying philosophy at Wits was a bad idea!

So, one quartet is not a lot of writing compared to the whole. But this is the crucial building block from which all else springs, so I am taking time to really fine tune it before continuing on. This is a method of writing that I am kind of developing intuitively as I proceed… and not how I usually work at all. It is this that gives me the luxury of threading new ideas and thoughts from every day into the narrative as I go. Thankfully the work I have already done on theme and plot makes it cleanly obvious if these ideas fit or not!

Anyway, enough blogging, I have work to do, catch you later!

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