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Saturday, 24 August 2013

A slightly different creative process this time

Normally I know the end of the story before I start. I know the main hurdles it will go through and I have the structure firmly in my head, even if I haven’t written it down. Sure, the characters take off on their own a little but the skeleton of the story remains intact. This time it is a little bit different. 

The main character tells her own story

We only know a little about Clara: that she allowed theHilfsklasse to use her cellar after the Waldorf School closed, that her husband was only 56 when he died, that she lived in Rexingen for a while, that she was transported to Theriesenstadt and from there to Treblinka, where she was murdered, and that she was a sunny, optimistic sort of person.
But what made all of this come about? Something in her personality and her background no doubt.
For once I’m not writing in a linear fashion. I’ll write as scene – and I’m writing scenes so that I’m showing not telling- and then realise that I need to have put in something earlier to make what I’ve just written about plausible. Thus, although I started the story on the day Ernst Lehrs senior died, 9 October 1918, we’ve seen her been as a young girl, we meet Ernst senior the same time that she does, we’ve been on trams around Berlin with her and Ernst (Leo) junior and we’ve watched a strange incident between Ernst (Leo) junior and a crucifix, to give but a few examples.  
I’ve just completed the first crossover scene – a scene that is told from Clara’s point of view though we have seen that particular scene from another point of view in The House on Schellberg Street. Writing that scene has made me realise two more are needed earlier, or possibly even three.  
It is very much as if she is telling me her story, though I don’t mean that in any paranormal sense. As I submerge myself in the story, getting the details of the times as accurate as possible, I’m tending to stumble upon what may well have actually happened.

Known outcome but there is still a story

Even if you hadn’t read this blog or The House on Schellberg Street it’s likely the factual end of the story will come as no surprise. You also now know that the subtext is that Clara’s nature remains optimistic right up to the very bitter end. What you won’t know – and I’m not going to tell you because I don’t know myself yet – is how that can possibly happen.
So this time I really am finding out through the writing itself. More so than ever before.         

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