- People still look down far too much on things that aren't 'literary' enough for their tastes. At one point Duffy said 'I write reality, not fantasy.' Which is utter nonsense. She writes a fictional representation of reality, which is really just another way of saying that it's every bit as made up as other fiction.
- People's writing habits vary enormously. Stella Duffy's main approach seems to have been to dive in and see what came out, with only vague mental planning beforehand. I don't know about anyone else, but I couldn't do anything without notes and plans and scribbled drawings and...
- Which leads us to the question of writing to a formula, or trying to second guess the market. Duffy's main problem throughout seemed to be a tension between what she wanted to write and what she thought she ought to. Maybe if you're aiming for a specific genre or area there are markers you need to hit, but even so, I have to think that writing by numbers can't work that well. Think about it, would you put up a painting that was painted by numbers.
- Finally, it seems that a pretty important component of writing is the desire to do the writing, or the involvement with the piece. If you're doing it just because you think a particular thing will sell, or will be easy to write, you're probably at a disadvantage compared to others who genuinely care about the type of book concerned. It took Duffy the whole documentary, not to mention a lot of time, effort and commitment, just to come up with the typical 'first three chapters plus synopsis' bundle. Which has to be about the best advert for writing what you really want to write there is.
Friday, 7 November 2008
Stella Duffy: Mills and Boon
There was an interesting documentary on TV last night, featuring serious literary novelist Stella Duffy as she had a go at writing a Mills and Boon romance. It raised some intriguing thoughts.