Cause and Effect (or lack of)

I was reading Me and My Big Mouth and was, as is the way of the Internet, diverted to this, which I think is good. They aren’t accepting entries until the beginning of November – but that isn’t very far away.

The reason I think it is good is because the connections between the stories (I think (hope)) are going to be little impulsive leaps of association rather than the blunt cause and effect that links the incidents and accidents that exist in plotted writing.

I like wandering, almost plotless stories. They are more real to me and I have been trying to write like that. I can’t remember who said it but I have read that if you have a gun on the set in Act One, you have to have it going off in Act Three. I wonder about that. It seems very anti-realist to me. Most of my puzzling time is spent trying to work out why I do things, or don’t do them. Real life doesn’t have the calmness of a novel. There isn’t beginning, middle and end; conflict, development and resolution. Not unless you are dead anyway.

Perhaps other people have psyches that are more integrated than mine? The constant mystery of my motives – and other people’s – is one of the things that makes me want to write. Not to figure it out, but to demonstrate how arbitrary and chaotic some of our choices are. There isn’t a cause.

Perhaps I do like cause and effect, but it is a cause and effect of emotion, rather than events, which answers to a logic that I’m not grown-up enough to have deciphered yet.

And yet I do like very plotted novels. I like good crime fiction and I like thrillers too – most of these have to be well constructed and logical for them to ‘work’ in the terms of their own genre. They are, to my way of thinking, avowedly anti-realist because they are logical and comprehensible and so a kind of escapism for me.

I can’t think of any way I would like to conclude this post. I am not sure that I spelled ‘comprehensible’ right, and the little one spilled a tea-pot on my dictionary today. I am also not sure if it is ‘spelled’ or ‘spelt’ – I think it depends which side of the Atlantic you are on. I hate writing in public. 

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