On Writing: Peter O’Donnell

Here’s a refreshingly down-to-earth description of ‘breaking the story’:

The location for a story is fine. Now all I want is some bad guys and a plot. Ah yes, a plot. Well, I’ve found that by reversing some simple element in the opening of an old story you can create something entirely diffeent in its development. For example, I must have written quite a few stories that open with Modesty saving somebody’s life, so why not reverse that? How about opening with somebody saving Modesty’s life?

So who is it going to be, man or girl? Could be both, I suppose. Young married couple perhaps. That feels all right up to a point, but how does Willie fit in? Ah yes, let’s give it another twist – the girl saves Willie’s life, risking her own. Make that highly visitual. She’s the action seeker of the couple. Husband’s a gentle giant type, very dim but lovable.

All I need now are the villains. They could be after something the couple have or know about. Like what? I’ve no idea, but I’ve got enough to start scripting, and all the rest will emerge as I go along and as the characters come to life. It always does.

— from Peter O’Donnell‘s intro to his Modesty Blaise: Yellowstone Booty reprint – a lovely title (and likely reason I picked it up from the local).

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