Where do your ideas come from? is probably the most common question asked of writers, and one that many will struggle to answer. Not me. I know exactly where my stories originate: a metal box on my desk called the Word Tin. It contains all the words I need, stamped into small strips of metal, like dog-tags. To build a story, I simply delve into the box, pull out a handful of words and put them in the right order – easy.
|The Word Tin: Where the words come from|
|The late great (and edgy) Robert Cormier|
It takes time to write and revise a novel, and I find that if the characters and their story don’t mean anything to me, they won’t sustain my interest through the months of writing. If you care, it also brings with it a sense of responsibility, a desire to do justice to the characters and their story, which can be a great motivation – especially in those dark hours encountered with every novel, where the story won’t come and you find yourself reaching for the Word Tin!
Last week, Bryony talked about edgy fiction dealing with unsettling, uncomfortable ideas. Look at all the Edge story synopses and you’ll find a wide range of tales that have one thing in common: they all deal with realities that are hard to face, things we would rather not think about: knife crime, child abduction, prejudice and torture, abandonment, deception and coercion.
But these are the subjects that excite and unsettle me, that gnaw away at my subconscious, disturb my daydreams and keep me awake at night – the things that drive me to the typewriter.
15 Days without a Head by Dave Cousins, is out in January 2012, published by Oxford University Press.