I didn’t set out to write a novel. I was just compiling a series of stories I’d told in class to students at the end of lessons. What I ended up with was a patchwork quilt of unconnected stories which reminded me of the patchwork quit that lay in winter over my parent’s bed.
That quilt had been made in hard times in the 1930s as it comprised the samples from a tailor’s book of cloth swatches. Each had been squared off and seamlessly sewn to the next.
There was no pattern or rhyme to the pattern, as each swatch had been separated from the book, so it was attached to the next one. When complete it was not a thing of beauty, but it was functional and it was warm, and had my parents been in the habit of inviting strangers into their bedroom, which they most definitely weren’t, then it would have been a conversation piece.
It was only in the process of stitching the stories together that I realised I was creating a narrative. This was very naïve of me really. Had I realised I was writing a book at the beginning I would probably have been daunted. But I wasn’t, I was writing a series of stand alone short stories, to which a narrative was grafted.
I think that would be a part of the advice that I gave to a new author. Unless you are writing a book in which the internal logic must be coherent throughout, don’t write a book, write a short story, then stitch them together to form the narrative at the end.
Then again, what do I know… there must be hundreds of ways to construct a book. Anyway, my thoughts are supplemented by those who know better here.