Good to know Creative Writing for Writers is setting the literary agenda: no sooner do we discuss Middlemarch in class than a handy article about it turns up in the Guardian. Despite repeating Virginia Woolf’s asinine yet oft-quoted remark about the book, it’s a useful account of a novel described by some as the greatest written in English:
Interestingly – thinking about the session on Plot the advanced course is covering this week – the Note on the Text at the end of the article details how the book came to be written, making the point that it emerged through a combination of two different stories and was developed as a serial. Among their many virtues, the great nineteenth-century novels continue to be admired and read for their intricate and densely layered plots, but many were written under pressure for publishers who were releasing them in instalments. Eliot, Dickens and their like might be remembered for the depth of their imaginative vision – what Ian McEwan described as their ‘long view’ – but this was seldom sprung from some great calculated plan, laid out before the writing and rigidly adhered to. These geniuses of the past simply got on with writing their stories and made careful decisions about them as they emerged. Essentially, they just made them up as they went along.
More about the development of Middlemarch can be read here:
Also, you can read a review of Storymaps, the book Mike mentioned in last night’s class, here http://www.scriptmag.com/reviews/story-maps-by-daniel-calvisi-book-review – there’s a link in the text to an example of one of the ‘maps’. Intriguing stuff, though I suspect if you pay heed to what the reviewer calls ‘active storytelling’ (the principle of always moving forward, which I advocate in the Plot session) you may naturally and inevitably arrive at a story structure with all the required beats in place anyway.
Finally, in other news, new research has revealed that you should never leave an open book lying around if you’ve got a cat in the house:
If they can do this to a printed page, God knows what they’ll do to a Kindle.