Written by JeanCurrie
The Bible tells how the world came into being, how the earth, seas and plants were created, and how God was pleased with his work. But as He gazed, He felt something was lacking. He created Man but there was still something missing. Man was no use without Woman. Until she appeared, he just stood around grumbling, sorry for himself, no idea what to do.
Can't you just see Eve? Full of vitality, a sense of fun, mischief and adventure.
'Let's do this, try that, see where this path leads ...' She spurred him on...
Do you see what has happened?
The Garden of Eden was simply the stage setting waiting for the actors, and not until they appear, do we sit up and take notice. The backdrop may be a cleverly constructed work of art, but that's all it is. Who wants to go to the theatre and do nothing more than gaze at the scenery? We want to see the players, learn who is who, which is the goodie and which the baddie and who is in love with whom. Not until the actors appear is interest aroused.
There is no action, no plot, no story without characters. That's why I believe they should be created first. Yes, you will have some idea of the setting and the kind of story - a naval yarn is hardly likely to take place in a forest - but the detail will come later because the kind of characters will determine much of the rest.
If Eve had been languid, interested in nothing more than lying in the sun to get a tan, she would have ignored the serpent's talk and the Tree of Knowledge, possibly even turned her back on Adam - but she had an enquiring mind and that determined the story.
Let us plot first before we are introduced to our characters, and see what happens.
A man who is badly in debt hopes to benefit from a relative's Will. He can't wait for the old woman to die from natural causes so he decides to fake an accident. (First bit of characterisation has slipped in - the victim is an old woman.)
By giving plot priority, we're already in trouble. If we had learnt something about the woman first, she would have told us she has never liked her nephew, wouldn't trust him further than she could throw him, and that she finds his suggestion of a holiday in the Alps suspect to say the least. What's more she has just had a hip replacement operation and can't walk unaided, let alone climb mountains.
The would-be murderer is going to have to change his plan and push the old lady's wheelchair under a bus!
Let's try again.
TAMSINELLA. I don't know where that name came from, but it doesn't belong to a stay-at-home drudge who is a doormat for her husband and family, does it? With a name like that she's going places.
An actress? A model? A pop singer? I don't know yet, but I'm sure she has a way with men. She's 23 and she has blond hair - some of the time. Sometimes it's chestnut, sometimes black. She is tiny (which makes her men friends feel protective, but it is they who need protection!) and needless to say she has a sexy figure.
She isn't perfect, (which one of us is?). She has a big red birthmark on her left cheek and no matter what make-up she uses to cover it, the ugly reflection stares at her from the mirror. She is so self- conscious about it that she always wears her hair low at that side. That may seem an insignificant detail, but it isn't, because when her body is found her head has been shaved.
That has come to me as I typed this, and there is a lot more.
Without conscious thought, one thing leads to another. She lives with me night and day. Whatever I'm doing, she's there, telling me a little more. She can't stand pets - dogs have to be walked, cats leave hairs on her clothes and she's allergic to feathers. And all this information is noted in Tamsinella's section of my loose-leaf book.
When the naked body is found, its head shaved, there is nothing to indicate who Tamsinella is, but the police soon discover that is not the name her mother gave her.
The police have to build up a picture of Tamsinella, alias Joyce Bottomley, and I must have every tiny detail on her character page because they can't find out anything I don't know.
Something tells me she ran away from home when she was fifteen and nobody has seen her in the back streets of Manchester since.
It may be that few, if any, of her relations will appear in the book but they have much to tell about Joyce and why she became Tamsinella.
Why, for instance, did she leave home? If she had a Gran to confide in, perhaps she would not have ended up in the mortuary. Did her mother die when she was only ten, leaving her with seven younger siblings and a drunken, violent father to look after? Did she hitch a lift with a stranger? Did she know a girl who had sent glowing reports of her life in London? Had she been sent to beg and steal when her father walked out on her mother? Had she been abused by one relative after another making her resolve to get her own back on men? Was she convinced she was destined for stardom as a singer, an actress or a model?
Finding the answer to these and other questions leads me to the people who knew her, the suspects, even the detectives.
After a while I not only know the characters better than I know my neighbours but also where the suspects were at the time poor Tamsinella came to an untimely end. (At first I believed she deserved what she got, but after living with her for months, I understand her, have even grown fond of her, and I'm desperate to bring her murderer to
And so, having assembled my character pages, I can plot - except that there isn't much left to do.
I know that Charlie talks a lot but does nothing, Frank's hands are too arthritic to wield a knife and Ben might punch someone when his temper is roused, but he certainly wouldn't stick around to shave off the girl's hair.
Only one person could have murdered Tamsinella - not just because he was in the right place at the right time, but because he has the character traits that could bring him to kill.
All I have to do is write the book.
Many novelists insist on plot, plan and synopsis first. If you haven't decided on the method that suits you, try mine. It's much more fun.