Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Psychology will do your head in

Authors beware.

Having spent a good deal of the summer up a mountain in Wales and away from decent internet (which explains the recent intermittent nature of this blog), I'm here again for a week for family reasons. Last night, sheltering from the wild weather in the pub, I got talking to a holidaying Canadian couple doing likewise. They were educated, thoughtful - in early middle age - and we soon got onto the subject of their national authors. Inevitably I mentioned Margaret Atwood.  The woman said, 'Oh no, I don't like Margaret Atwood at all! Oh no, no. What I like is a good story, and Margaret Atwood's books all take place inside people heads!' And she put her hands up to her head in a gesture not just of illustration but despair.

So, authors, remember: keep out of those damn heads. Emotion? Perspective? Point of view? The idea that the way a story unfolds depends on the insides of characters' heads? Who damn well cares? Ditch all that difficult stuff and stick to a simple notion of plot.

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