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.


Kathleen Jones said...

This really made me smile! But it's true, what a lot of people really want is a good old fashioned story and b**** to Freud.

Jenny Wren said...

I could hear the Canadian accent in how you captured her speech. Funny!

Sue Sedgwick said...

Oh dear. But I can't help thinking that story is primary. A gripping enough tale will carry all but fairly poor writing, but even the most beautiful style will hold your attention only for a short while without plot or message - in my opinion anyhow: none of which applies to Atwood, of course.

Tracey Wood said...

Yadda yadda. Skim skim. -Just tell me what the hell happens next!