How To Talk to Imaginary People

Great Marley Ghost MonoIn order to converse with fictional characters, consume more gravy.

Dear Readers

Firstly I would like to apologise for the protracted absence of posts on this august organ. Why it seems that it has been fully two weeks now since we last made communication. I can reassure you that all is well, that Mr Michael is hard at work on the forthcoming Paris Awakening novel and that the persistent rumours concerning a euphonium, a junior minister, a Welsh male voice choir and Lord Hollingbury are unfortunately true.

Anyway, we recently had the pleasure of discussing the matter of writing with a non-writing acquaintance. The conversation went along these lines:

“Dear chap, I don’t know how you do it! How do you work out, from all possible paths, what will happen in the story?”

“Why thats simplicity itself,” I countered. “I simply let the characters decide what they will do.”

“Good grief man!” he exclaimed, knocking over  a perfectly good brandy. “How can that be achieved?”

“My dear friend, I let them talk amongst themselves,” I said. At this he waved his arms and his voluminous mustache wobbled.

“You see, sir, you are a genius, I couldn’t conceive of doing such a thing.”

“I disagree,” I said, “I’ll wager you can, and let me explain how….”

This, in a nutshell, is the advice I gave my friend. It is a series of exercises which can be carried out in ones own mind, but I find that such exercises are better written out. Somehow writing brings extra depth and magic.

  1. Imagine two friends that you know well and who know each other. Imagine they are having a conversation.
  2. Next, imagine two friends that you know well, but are not mutually acquainted. Imagine them meeting and the conversation they may have.
  3. This time, imagine a friend you know meeting a fictional character, either one of your own devising or from a popular novel. As before, imagine how the conversation would occur.
  4. And finally, substitute the real world friend for another fictional character, and imagine how they would converse.

And voila! You know have two fully fledge imaginary people talking in your head. If you’ve enjoyed this parlour trick, be sure to tell your friends. And have a most pleasant Sunday.


An Interesting Modern Device to Assist the Writer

Hansen Writing BallNot this…

Good afternoon, Dear Readers. This afternoon I’m going to take the unusual step of pulling back the curtain to reveal some of the gears and levers that go into producing the literary content of the Benthic Times. Pay not attention to the man, I want to show you something else.

Following a marvellous tweet from the equally marvellous Gail Carriger, I started to utilise a most interesting thing called Trello. This works rather like a card index system and allows me to create one card per scene and hence organise the forthcoming Paris Awakening novel. One can also create boards that can function as different sections (for example, Act 1,2,3, or even chapters) and so the scenes can be put in the correct section. One can also re-arrange them at will and add labels (such as characters, locations and so on). My most favourite function of all though is that it allows me to use it via a so-called “app” on my portable telephonic device (the Queen has one, I believe). This rather wonderful thing allows me to carry out plotting at a bus stop. All the more remarkable given I never take the bus.

As I am neither a full on “pantser” nor a meticulous “planner” but some horrible chimeric writer (a “panner” I suspect) who starts writing to get the location, atmosphere and characters, then plots on bits of paper, this is a sheer joy for me. And as the actual financial outgoing is very reasonable (it’s free), I can recommend it to anyone with a reasonably sized writing project on the go.

Wishing you all a pleasant Sunday

Paul Michael