Tag Archives: andy griffiths

what football, good writing and Sherlock Holmes have in common

I watched the last 20 minutes of the AFL grand final today. I’m not a huge sports person, but I was doing that mad thing people do when they watch sport, where they leap around and laugh in disbelief and yell at the tv – when there’s no one else around.

It redefined nail-biting.

So what it has to do with writing is this: When it’s so tense, and the teams are alternating the lead but never moving much beyond one point’s difference, you’re desperate to be released from the tension. But then, when a game is too one-sided – the outcome too obvious – it becomes boring.

Andy Griffiths spoke to our class recently, and he was cautioning against listening too hard to what readers say they want. “No kid would say ‘What I want from a story is to be terrified for half an hour’, but they love it.”

A friend of mine was talking about the pitfalls of publishing her novel online in sections. She said her readers were pestering her to resolve the unresolved sexual tension in the plot. But as she pointed out, they don’t really want her to do that. It would kill the forward motion of the book dead.

And lastly, watching Sherlock Holmes last night, the following exchange struck me as true:

Langdon: “Oh so many people, so little purpose – that’s God’s conundrum. If only we mortals could answer that!”

Holmes: “Then your life would have no meaning.”

There is something we want to solve or see resolved, but the reading/watching/living happens in the solving, not in the solution.

the marriage paradox

as Cheryl pointed out a few days ago in response to my post about love, being in relationship is paradoxical.

Special k encapsulated that very clearly tonight when he said:

You need to do what you need to do, and I need to do what I need to do, and we need to do it together.

Maybe marriage wouldn’t be nearly as attractive if it wasn’t such an impossible equation. There’s something about being human that thrills to the challenge of achieving something that looks impossible.

As Andy Griffiths told my class today, what kids love most is being somewhere familiar (say, the shower) then being put in an impossible situation (you’ve cemented the door so that you can fill the cubicle with water, then you can’t turn the tap off) then figuring out how to get out (climb into the roof, then fall naked on the very important dinner your parents are holding in the dining room next door).

Marriage and psycho bums: one and the same?