Twitterers

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Today, Philip Pullman did an hour long Q&A on twitter via @BBCWales and I was lucky enough to have a couple of questions answered!

This is why I love twitter. You get to be in contact with people you admire.

I’m a huge PP fan. I cannot tell you how much I admire his writing and his imagination. His Dark Materials trilogy is such an inspiring story. Complex and yet completely attainable and understandable.

I am always intrigued about other writers methods of writing. I knew that PP doesn’t believe in writers block. His philosophy is to write every day, and you won’t find yourself lacking in inspiration or word count.

I didn’t know that he doesn’t plan his stories. This sounds incredible to me.

What I think of as planning is thinking for a very long time about a character and sort of deciding their fate. You have to know everything about them.

Seeing what world surrounds them.

Hearing what music they listen to.

Smelling their favourite scent.

Knowing what they think.

Understanding their opinions.

Laughing at what they find funny.

Disagreeing with opinions they don’t hold favour with.

Wanting the same happiness they crave.

If you create a person and know them implicitly, then their story will form around them.

That’s what happens for me anyway. When I plan a story, what I mean is I plan a characters journey. I know where they end up, why they end there and how this affects them.

The rest of the book happens as you write.

Crystal Green is alive in my head. In a way, she has a lot of the same characteristics as me. In other ways she is completely different. But as soon as I knew her, I knew what she was going to go through. I knew what she would face. I knew she’d become a hero.

And then her story started to wrap around her like she was at the centre of a giant web and I was the spider.

For me, planning the story was quite important. It was a fantastic creative process in itself. I loved deciding where Crystal was going to go in this particular volume. And I like that I have a plan for it. That’s not to say that it’s rigid or unchangeable. On the contrary, it’s a guide. A guide I’m grateful for creating as it allows me to know where I am in the story and what to write next.

On the other hand I can completely understand why PP would find this process lifeless and boring. The creative process is the exciting part. So I can see how this would invigorate the sometimes gruelling time you spend actually writing.

I have to assume that PP does an enormous amount of thinking about character and story before putting pen to paper. Whether or not he writes it down or structures a book before he writes it is irrelevant. For him, planning must be about the character and their journey, not the book.

The book holds the story. And the story comes from your protagonist. And your protagonist is everything.

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And of course I had to get that question in. Morally ambiguous characters are my fav!

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