We’re moving straight on.
A story – any story – needs a thing, something.
But things don’t exist in the void. And if you want an event to happen, then the thing needs to move around from one location to another.
So a story also also needs a place for its thing.
Mr But: Again, it’s possible to imagine a story that was about an isolated object floating in a void lacking gravity and any possible indication of up and down, not even a single star.
And again, I would love to read this placeless story, Mr But, if you can write it and send it to me – but I will be most interested to see what is happening a while after the opening paragraph, especially on pages three and four. How are you making anything happen?
Exercise: Write a description (as you did before in the third person, past tense) of a place you once knew very well but to which you can now (for whatever reason) never return.
Because this involves your memory, you may be tempted to include the word I in your description. Please don’t, as that will stop it being the third person.
Describe the place in terms of what can be seen there, not what someone who knew the place might know about it – for example, The wallpaper was light green and covered in fleur-de-lys rather than The light green wallpaper had been put up by Gareth Wilson in November 1998.
You have five minutes. Start the clock.
Now move on.