Until a couple of hours or so ago, this was one of my down days (after falling asleep sometime after 5 a.m. this morning). No new posts, no responding to comments or visiting other blogs, no new artwork, no writing, just—rest. And thinking about aspects of my novel.
I am continuing to enjoy reading Wired for Story on my Kindle—so much excellent advice and food for thought for someone writing fiction.
As a fiction writer, you want to give your reader a sense of place and time. In the case of my novel, that is England, and to a lesser extent, France in the mid-18th century.
I do wrestle with things such how much detail to inject into certain scenes. What to put in and what to leave out. How much information does the reader need about this particular character, this bedchamber, this locale at this point in the story?
This particular quote from Wired for Writing really struck me tonight:
~Each thing you add to your story is like a drop of paint falling into a bowl of clear water. It spreads and colors everything.
As with life, new information causes us to reevaluate the meaning and emotional weight of all that preceded it, and to see the future with fresh eyes. In a story, it influences how we interpret every single thing that happens—how we read every nuance—and in so doing raises specific expectations about what might occur in the future . . .
Chekov once said in a note to S. Shchukin, “If you say in the first chapter a rifle is hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”~
Excellent advice, methinks. And this leads me to think of some of the metaphorical rifles that have been hung on the walls but have never truly, properly gone off for an Armitage character.
Specifically, MI-5 agent Lucas North.
Lucas. Such a fascinating and enigmatic character. So much that piqued my curiosity from the moment he came stumbling out of that car boot.. Those Russian prison tattoos. His affection for William Blake. The failed marriage to a woman he obviously still cared for deeply.
The damage done by all the torture and deprivation experienced during those eight years in prison—surely a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?–and how he coped with it.
We got glimpses into those horrific times, brief references to his earlier years.
Unfortunately, almost everything that had been established about Lucas by the writers of series 7 and to a lesser extent, series 8, was completely thrown out the window by the writers of series 9. He literally became a different person.
I know that Spooks was an ensemble show and that storylines couldn’t solely focus on one character, and I understand that.
But a huge chunk of S9 was devoted to the downfall of Lucas, Plenty of time was spent deconstructing the character that might have otherwise been utilized to create a “Lucas breaks down” storyline that was more plausible but still compelling. I never thought Lucas was free of flaws or demons; I just didn’t see him as a greedy, mass-murdering immature git.
Now, I know there are those of you who believe the entire John Bateman story was simply “classic Spooks” and perfectly acceptable in the context of this particular production.
I am not going to try to change your mind, any more than you would be able to change my own.
However, in terms of crafting a good story that showed continuity in terms of what had been previously established, I have to say it was a major failure.
S9 displayed outlandish potboiler writing more suited to a soap opera than an “intelligent and stylish” production. Richard’s performance was amazing, kudos for him from keeping this series from being a total farce. However, as a writer, I thought the material stank to high heaven, frankly.
And dammit, they didn’t give Lucas that “elegant death” that RA had hoped for. Just a long, sad, cowardly dive off a tall building to an ignominious demise.
I don’t think I will ever quite forgive them for that. I kept wanting Ros to show up, alive and kicking (arse) and say: “Get a grip, people! This isn’t Lucas, just some dodgy imitation. Where have you hidden him? And where’s the hidden camera, because this is all obviously a really bad joke . . .”
An awful lot of rifles were hanging on that wall that just didn’t get fired, y’all.