Friday, 23 March 2012

Problems or opportunties in plotting

One of the things I love about writing is the way solving logistical problems in a novel can open up creative opportunities.

The underlying story of the Girl in the GlassLove of Shadows and the, as yet unnamed, last book in the trilogy is how Anya/Judith follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to become a healer and a wisewoman. But from the word go I had a problem. Of necessity Anya’s mother is dead when the first book opens, so how does she learn the healer’s art?

a) how does she learn about gardening and propagating plants?
b) who gives her the first book on healing?
c) how does she learn to tend wounds and set bones?
d) how does she learn to distill medicines and make creams?
e) how does she learn to read and have access to medicine and herbal books?
f) what triggers her to become a healer?
The answers to each of these crucial questions are:
a) she works with the gardener in her Aunt’s garden
b) the housekeeper Marta gives her the book
c) there’s an earthquake and she works in a dressing station with the wounded
d) she works for a perfumer Elma and so learns to distil and make creams and other beauty products
e) Elma sponsors her use of the library, ostensibly to learn about perfumes,
f) Elma develops cancer and they cannot afford the medicine.

Each solution moves the story forward, often in ways I hadn’t foreseen, opening the plot and characters to more twists and depth. In my next post I will talk more about the decision to make Judith a perfumer  and its consequences.

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