I like knitting; I'm a pretty accomplished knitter. A few years ago, for a challenge, I taught myself to knit socks. They look fiendishly difficult, but are actually quite easy once you get the hang of where all the pins go. Most of the time, I knit on three pins - on a triangle, if you can imagine that - and except for the fiddly bit when I shape the heel, I'm basically knitting a continuous spiral. On three pins.
|See what I mean about the triangle?|
(This is where the link to writing comes in... but you don't have to be a knitter to understand it!)
It's this triangular aspect that's important to writing.
Y'see, I did an online self-editing course a little over twelve months ago, run by the Writer's Workshop. (Fab course - one's just about to start again, well worth the money and I guarantee you'll never look at your WIP in quite the same way again after doing it!)
In one of the early lessons, we were given an exercise; to write a maximum of 3 sentences per chapter of our WIP, describing what happens and how that moves the story along. Essentially - where did the scene start, what happens and how do the characters react, where do they end up as a result?
Remember I told you about the three pins? And knitting in a spiral? Well, my story-telling and knitting of socks just morphed into a knit-a-story analogy! Let me explain...
When I knit, I complete three pins worth of stitches to complete one circular row. Three pins - three stages in my chapter. So I can view one row knitted as another chapter completed. And then I do it all over again... I end up a little further along the sock/through the story as a result of this continuous circling; the sock grows, the story develops.
My current WIP, Ani's story, doesn't look like it is going to have chapters. Does that muck up this analogy of one round of three pins equals a chapter?
Not at all. I still use the same three stages (starting point, action, where d'you end up?) over and over again to develop my storyline - but they won't be defined by chapter breaks. If we think of it in knitting terms again, it's more a case of sussing out when the sock's long enough (without counting the rows) before I turn the heel. Or - as was the case with my last pair of socks, knitted from leftover sock wool - when does it feel right to change to a new colour?
|Look what I ended up with when I used that method!|
I just hope Ani's story ends up as colourful as my odd-bod socks... and that I've not stretched this analogy too far!