Friday, March 30, 2012

How He Does It - James Hutchings

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who,
> What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth
> which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

I've heard that for journalism, but I don't think I've ever used it in creative
writing. When I'm stuck I often use the five senses: what does the scene look
like, what does it sound like and so on.

> How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

I'm much more interested in plots than in characters. When I have an idea for a
story it's almost always an idea for something that could happen, rather than an
idea for a character.

Several of my stories have 'gods' as characters, who are personifications of
ideas: Death, Love, Commerce and so on.

> Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or
> do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

I usually think of a plot, and have characters that fit that. I know you're
'supposed' to develop characters and then derive the plot from what they'd do,
but that's not how I write.

> Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or
> a specific one?

I usually do, but there are some exceptions, such as my story 'The Death of the
Artist'. I wrote each section of that without knowing where it was going next.
As a result, I think it ended up having a more original plot than it would have

> Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and
> plans of houses sitting around?

I almost never have physical locations 'mapped out' in any detail, and my plots
don't really require knowing (for example) how many rooms are in the house and
which ones are on which floor. I probably wouldn't be very good at writing
murder mysteries.

> Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Most of my stories are set in a made-up world (and the world isn't intended to
be based on medieval Europe or any particular period of history). So I don't
need to do research. However I do do a kind of research, in that I write down
interesting things from history or fiction that I find online, particularly on
wikipedia. For example, these are curses from the front of two medieval books,
that I intend to use one day:

If anyone take away this book, let them die the death; let them be fried in a
pan; let the falling sickness and fever seize them; let them be broken on the
wheel, and hanged.

Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from its owner
may their soul suffer, in retribution for what they have done, and may their
name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed.

1 comment:

Bonnie mcCune said...

Always interesting to get the details on the creative process. Everyone is so different. I first thought, years ago, it was magic. Now I know it's hard work. Bonnie McCune, author, "A Saint Comes Stumbling In"