Monday, 8 January 2018

Writers, Beware! By Annie Try

Another ACW member wrote a recent post on this blog about the difficulty of the first sentence of a piece of work.  But I’m surprised she didn’t mention titles.  I have just sat for twenty minutes trying to think of a title  before writing a single word of this post.  I seem to be nurturing a strange idea that having a title might help me know what to write.

But, in fact, I know it makes sense to have an idea about what I am writing before finding a title.  This is not how my random mind works.  I often start something then gradually it unfolds in front of me.  When I’m writing novels, I enjoy writing a few key scenes before filling in the rest of the novel. Am I really unusual in this?

I understand the need for chronological order.  Indeed, nature illustrates this for us all the time.  If something is unusual we notice.  Like, for example, the forsythia twigs I picked on Christmas Eve having blossomed already, giving me a very spring like bird tree, too soon after Christmas.
Or we exclaim over a late rose, its blossom frozen in December. I was presented with one by my other half in mid-December.  It was beautiful in its frozen state but even more majestic as it opened in the warmth, holding its petals out for a mere day before they dropped, spreading yellowness across the windowsill.

Time ‘goes too fast,’ we say.  Of course, it doesn’t - it just ticks along the same as usual.  And I may have written the end of a novel before the middle but unless it is something really clever, like ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ it needs to be rearranged chronologically, or at least logically, to have any meaning for the reader. I have tricked the forsythia by bringing it indoors, away from the freezing edges of a Norfolk field, which gives me a logical reason for its early blossoming.

Yet isn’t every story a distortion of time?  In the time it takes to read a few pages, the reader may have covered a month, a year, maybe a century or two.  And this incredible vehicle, the book, may have transported him or her across miles of unknown territory and unreal worlds.  It’s not just fiction either; a good essay can take someone into another person’s thinking, a write up of an experiment can carry a person to a whole new way of understanding a subject, the Bible can transform a life.

So writers, beware!  You have the power to create more powerful alchemy than any magician, to traverse time, to travel further than any world explorer and to create worlds no-one has ever found.

And I think I’ve found my title!

'Annie Try' is the pen-name of Angela Hobday, Chair of the Association of Christian Writers.  Annie has had published three novels, the last two being Dr Mike Lewis stories.  Mike Lewis is a clinical psychologist with very interesting clients, with stories to tell.  Both books are published by Instant Apostle entitled Trying to Fly and Out of Silence. Annie is now working on the next novel in the series as well as having two YA novels on the go.


  1. Your writing is amazing, Annie, nevermind the title! Started reading 'Losing Face' a couple of days ago, compulsive reading. Wish I could write as well!

  2. Wow Angela, just wow. So inspiring. Thank you. And I love your piece about the rose spreading yellowness across the windowsill - beautiful x

  3. You're paragraph about chronology made me think. I'm just starting what I intend to be a time-travel novel. If Audrey S can do it ...