The story knows best

I’m currently reading this collection of essays by the beloved children’s writer, Philip Pullman. There are plenty of craft books I go back to again and again and I’m sure I’ll be adding this one to my collection.


For now, here’s just one of the many extracts that resonated with me and it’s something that Kate DiCamillo talks about too - the idea that the story you are telling has a life of its own, that the story is in some way cleverer than its teller. Perhaps ‘cleverer’ isn’t the right word. ‘Bigger’, maybe.

“What I seem to be saying here, rather against my will, is that stories come from somewhere else. It’s hard to rationalise this, because I don’t believe in a somewhere else…It certainly feels as if the story comes to me, but perhaps it comes from me, from my unconscious mind - I just don’t know; and it wouldn’t make any difference to the responsibility either way. I still have to look after it. I still have to protect it from interference while it becomes sure of itself and settles on the form it wants. Yes, it wants. “ From Magic Carpets, an essay on the writer’s responsibilities, by Philip Pullman.