An extra ‘P’

When I was teaching, like most teachers I wrote material for my students. They were heading towards their public exams and in my case they were working for their English exam. I put my different bits and pieces together into a booklet for them, and later I pulled it all together and eventually produced an actual book which I called ‘So you want to write’ (no question mark because it was a statement!)

I outlined six specifics needed to write a story, which I called the six P’s –

Decide on the story line or action or series of events you are going to write about, and the order in which they are to be written (you can use flashbacks and other devices to make your story more interesting, intriguing or unusual) (think plot)

Decide on your characters, not too many of them in a short story; imagine what they are like and what they look like and how each fit into the pattern of events. Are the characters in some sort of relationship with each other? (think people)

Decide on who is telling the story, you, a single character, several characters, a detached observer (Think point of view – think POV)

Decide why they are telling the story; why is the story being told, the reason (think purpose)

Decide where your events are taking place in terms of a physical setting and in terms of when the action happened. (think place)

Decide what events take place to carry the story and your readers along. (think pace)

Remember the Six P’s

  • Plot
  • People
  • POV
  • Purpose
  • Place
  • Pace

Since then I have realised there is an all important other P missing! Polish! Think Polish!!

What I mean by that is what you do when you have finished your story or your writing; yes, you will check it over for errors, mistakes and typos – and yes you will read it through to check it ‘sounds’ alright, you might even read it through out loud for a real check to make it sure it actually does sound right… but then, before it is launched, share, published, it needs a bit of polishing. Work on it so that it’s the best it can be, look out for little things like repeated words or corny phrases or trite expressions or pretentious language or overused jargon. Sometimes you might have found a word you really like, numinous for instance, or paneremos, and because you like it you keep using it like a lovely little friend… but for your reader it will be an annoyance and a conceit.

I did include the idea of polishing your writing, but did not include it as a P

 A story has to be worked on and polished as a gem cutter might polish a precious stone, or a jeweller buff up a piece of jewellery, or a wood carver rub beeswax into a carving…

Yes, definitely an extra P!!

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