fun with plotting

November 22, 2009

 I love the way this book is keeping me guessing.  For example, whilst mapping out the plot in the last few months it has changed almost completely from the initial idea. Initially the book was about the protagonist, Taylor, visiting Caspinal house to value the estate and then discovering a book of confessional poetry written by Nathaniel Caspinal, when he was young, that would later reveal the ‘dark secrets of the Caspinal family’. This idea was entitled ‘The Rhythmical Workings of Nathaniel Caspinal’. My principal concern with this initial plot outline was the protagonist’s lack of motive for wanting to discover the ‘dark secrets’; he had nothing really at stake. Essentially, he was exploring the Caspinal family secrets to simply satisfy his curiosity. 

 In response to this problem I created Taylor’s grandfather. The Caspinal family, specifically Wainwright, were to have wronged Taylor’s grandfather in some way. Taylor attempting to redress this injustice thereby had an ulterior motive for exploring the Caspinal family and collection. To raise the stakes further I escalated this injustice to suspicion of Wainwright having murdered the grandfather. However, this addition that was simply to provide greater motivation for the protagonist had a massive impact on the entire plot and brought about dramatic changes. Firstly, it drew a greater focus on Wainwright Caspinal. And secondly, it foregrounded the collection because the story became more about getting to know Wainwright and it is through the collection that we come to understand him.

I now had two similar devices through which we got to know characters – Nathaniel’s book of poems and Wainwright’s collection. As Wainwright took greater prominence in the story finding out about Nathaniel through the poetry book became a redundant plot-line. Additionally, the collection as a topography of Wainwright’s mind just seemed like such a more interesting idea. The discovery of a poetry book was also a little too reminiscent of A S Byatt’s ‘Possession’. As a result of these changes the poetry book is no longer part of the story and the story itself is now entitled ‘The Curious Collection of Wainwright Caspinal’.

 And before I know it, Taylor is staging a break-in to Caspinal house so that he can get a longer look at the collection, but more about that in the next instalment.