The plot strands weave in and out. Soon instead of a wonderful tapestry, there’s a bird’s nest of confusion and you start wondering where you’re going and what the story is truly about. The premise meanders. Gets lost in a morass. Beginnings seem so easy. In the first flush, the story world seems immediate, the tone seems to come without much thought, the character strides into action, the opposition seems vital and strong. But suddenly there’s the muddle…
The beginning, the muddle and the end is an inevitable part of my writing process (those who’ve read this far might say it’s an inevitable part of my blogging process too!) Let the first draft flow as fast as possible is often the advice, then settle down to edit. But somehow the middle remains the muddle. How will I compel the reader to move on? The textbooks say… compel the reader with conflict and opposition and by stretching the tension. But how much conflict can I throw at my lead character and when is opposition too strong or perhaps not even justified?
This week I’ve been visiting the winelands of the Western Cape in South Africa and have been savouring the sauvignon blancs, pinot noirs, merlots and cabernets, hoping to push my most recent ‘muddle’ to the back of my mind. In the flinty arid region of Robertson I came across the Springfield Estate where the names of two wines had resonance… a sauvignon blanc called Life from Stone and a blend which on its label states: ‘this long wait, justified only by our passion, does bear fruit. It’s called the Work of Time.
Both names – Life from Stone and the Work of Time – pretty much sum up for me the writing process as I grapple with the muddle. So I’m drawing inspiration not just from the wines but also from an inscription I happened to notice across the cellar wall: ‘Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.’ Albert Einstein.