Saturday, 8 January 2022

Research....and luck. By Keren David

 Sometimes you do research. And sometimes you just get lucky. 

When I was writing my one and only book set in the past, I wanted to know if it was plausible that there would be snowflakes falling on my characters in mid April on a visit to Toronto. So  -  thank you internet -  I looked up the weather for April 17 1904 in Toronto and discovered, quite by chance that vast swathes of the city burned down on that date. And - yes, thank you -  it was snowing. 

Cue a much more exciting chapter than I had originally planned, with ashes mingling with the drifting snowflakes as my star-crossed lovers battle to extinguish the flames. 

This weekend, something similar happened. I was writing a new book (or, more accurately editing), up against a tight deadline. In this book every chapter ends with the words 'no' or 'yes'. The main character's arc is from negative gloom to positive thinking. And I decided to send her off to a theatre workshop, mid book, mainly to provide some interaction with two other important characters. 

The only problem was, I couldn't think of what might happen at the workshop.  What do people do at theatre workshops?  I was going to ask some actor friends, but my son happened to be sitting opposite me, so I asked him. Not that he has ever gone to a drama workshop that I could remember. In fact he has always hated drama, and as it wasn't a big subject at his school, had hardly ever done it. He's now 22. So I wasn't expecting much. Oh, and he knew next to nothing about the book. He certainly didn't know about the journey from 'no' to 'yes', or my nifty ends to chapters. 

He said: 'What about the 'Yes' game?'

I think my jaw actually dropped.

'The what?'

'The 'Yes' game. They always do stuff like that. Look it up.'

So I did, and discovered something completely perfect for my character, for my book. An exercise where you have to answer yes to everything your partner says.  It was the missing piece of the jigsaw. I put it in place - and the entire book made more sense around it.

Call it luck, call it coincidence, call it the right person at the right time....I don't know.

 Because I still can't remember him ever going to a theatre workshop. 


Adelaide Dupont said...

VERY lucky!

I wondered if your son had done an ice-breaking exercise

and there is a lot of positive psychology in which YES GAMES are often played in a team.

Or perhaps he picked up the idea from YES DAY.

Susan Price said...

Keren -- call it 'serendipity.'
I find it often happens in research -- though not often with such neat dove-tail jointing as yours!

Alan McClure said...

Oh, I love it when that sort of thing happens!