So, Barnabas and Wilfred have only just begun their second great adventure, and already they've gotten themselves into quite a pickle. It's a terrible pickle; a pickle of the most distressing sort; the kind of pickle that a nice life in Marylebone doesn't quite prepare one for.
Oh dear. Oh dear, indeed!
Will they bravely prevail? Will they run away, screaming and flailing their arms about in a panic? Will they rescue someone, or will they be the ones in need of rescue?
I don't know yet. I suppose I'll find out when I sit down with them later today, and hear what they have to say. Which brings me to the point of this seemingly pointless, long-winded musing: the two dichotomous approaches to writing (which, it turns out, are not entirely dichotomous at all!)
When one is writing a book, or a story, or really anything for that matter, one is told that one should plot it out carefully. Make outlines, create a story board, stick to your plot points. I've tried that. I've rigidly held the characters to their fates, made them do what they were supposed to do, yada yada yada. It was terribly boring. I was bored. The characters themselves seemed bored, like they were going through the motions.
The opposite advice is that one should just write what comes naturally, go with the flow, see where it takes you. I've tried that too. It's loads more fun. It's like the story is writing itself and you're just along for the ride, like some strange sort of typing medium channeling the spirits of your characters. Delightful.
But, sadly, it's also a bit like going for a run and turning every which way willy-nilly. Fun while you're doing it, but at some point you end up in some random place and you look around and say, 'well, that was great and all, but where am I, why am I here, and how on earth do I get back again?' Then it's a long slow trudge back to wherever it is that you came from, or where you want to go, or whatever.
So I decided to mix the two. I have a rough outline of chapters. In each, Barnabas and Wilfred have a job to do. There's something they need to accomplish; some place they need to get themselves to. How they get there and what they do along the way is up to them. They are free, as long as they do what's expected of them.
This way, I get to experience the joys of letting them choose for themselves, while holding them in line with a few minimal restraints. And let's be honest: if Barnabas and Wilfred were given free rein to do anything and everything they wished, we'd probably all end up watching them sit around a cozy fireplace in Marylebone.
Or, perhaps, stuffing their faces from a cheese platter at a very particular roadside inn ;-)
Duty calls, then, to Barnabas and Wilfred. It's time for them to stop messing around, and get themselves out of that pickle we were talking about earlier.
I wonder how they'll do?