The Process (Part 2 — Exploration)

Bosch is the Business

Hi there!


We’re back for the second part of the Process– today is Exploration, the first day of writing! This is when I sit down and open a word document and just see what nonsense comes out– what tone and method and characters appear. This is often the most fun and creative part of the Process, when I give myself the fullest freedom to be very silly or very strange, when I don’t yet have to worry about polished prose or logical plots or word count. It is just me and the story discovering each other and getting to know each other’s quirks and foibles.

It is a first date, with all the fun and terror that implies.

With the blank page in front of me, and with a very vague Idea established from the night before I sit down to write THE SHITTING PRINCESS. I am always conscious that writing is a process akin to alchemy–in the fusing of mind and page, mediated by the thumping of keys, new concepts and ideas will be thrown up, old ideas mercilessly cast aside. I don’t know what to expect.

C’mon mind; let’s get creatin’!

I remember that there is a diagnostic sheet used to describe different types of poo. I type “diagnostic poo” into Google and get this:

Stool Boom!

Excellent. I can use this. Also, I remember a detail from The Garden of Heavenly Delights by Bosch that might come in handy– that’s it there at the head of this post, a rather adorable Satan devouring sinners and pooing them into Hell. Perhaps a detail or two of it will come in handy? And I am thinking about the setting too; placing it on the roundabout reminds me of theatre in the round, so maybe that will return somewhere? Who knows?

I remember the scene that popped into my head yesterday (poking with the pen) and so I write the first line:

Softly prodding, like a mother cow urging her new calf to stand, the blunt end of the biro sinks into the giving brown.

And my mind is on fire– who is doing the prodding? Where? The scene unfolds and from nowhere I have three monk-like figures prodding poo in a dark tent. An old one, one with glasses and a young trainee one, Geoff. I love this– half an hour before they didn’t exist, and now I can’t imagine them not existing. They have to exist–Geoff and his mentors sniffing poo and checking its colour and comparing it to the Bristol Stool chart above to figure out what the week’s weather will be. It doesn’t matter what the plot is, this scene is going in!

I am very happy with lines like:

The second man nods. “Yeah. The tang tells me it’ll be overcast, but like you said, too sweet for storms.”


The words tumbled out of him like Type 6 diarrhoea

And as I’m writing this, I’m also thinking in the back of my mind about the wider plot. Yesterday I ended the post by talking about the three possible plots that presented themselves at the Idea stage, and I very quickly discussed them. What I didn’t mention was Plot DAll of the above! Why not Plot A of the Community watching the Shitting and Plot B of someone interfering with the shit and Plot C the Shitting Princess living happily every after?

The more I think about it, the more this makes sense– the story (I think) is about a Community experience, so when the scene with the Weathermen is finished (notice the capital W) and suddenly I am outside the tent among the crowd watching, and it is a child suddenly called Simon on his father’s shoulders who is our pov now and this is perfect, because if I am going to change the pov like this I can write bits from the Princess’s view as well, further down the line. And the father is saying to Simon “Look there is your Uncle Geoff, give him a wave!” and fuck it–


That’s how I bring in Plot B— To get treatment for his nephew, Geoff will agree to being paid to interfere with the Shitting in some way, possibly misleading farmers so their produce is ruined and the farms in the next village can make a killing at the market or something like that. Great! Then he can be found out (because the Weathermen always taste the Princess’s droppings to see if they’ve been messed with) and Geoff is hanged from a lamppost in a tender scene. I think by only discussing this plot in the most fleeting of manners will add to the horror.

And my mind goes back to the Princess and yesterday it hit me that she was probably delusional or something, and she is happy to sit on the roundabout in the cold and the rain because she believes that she is a princess and the people are her subjects, and so they dress her up and give her a wand (?) and that’s why the Weathermen wear cassocks because it fits with the Medieval/fairytale setting she believes she is living in and BAM I can use some lovely details from the Bosch painting at the head of this post. I can make her bedgraggled dress the same colour as Satan’s! The story can end with her thoughts on how she loves her people so much, and it is a fine, fine kingdom. She is 14 and dying of exposure. (Must look up exposure on wikipedia tomorrow and get the symptoms right.)

At the end of my first writing binge I come to 868 words. A fabulous amount, very happy with the amount and quality of the work. Still need to structure the thing, and that is what tomorrow will be all about. Join me then for the third part of the Process: Structuring and Unity, when the hard work really begins.

Until then, I offer you my High Five,


The Process Part 1 — The Idea

The Process Part 3 — Structuring and Unity

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