On ‘Cloris – an Alfred and Suzie Story’ – Writing from Autobiograpy – and a Note on Plotting

‘Cloris’ (the previous blog post) might not seem much of a story on its own – though if you agree with what E M Forster says in Aspects of the Novel – that a story is a sequence of events, no more, no less – then ‘Cloris’ is a story.

I find Forster’s idea liberating – it gives me confidence merely to say what happened without having to worry about the whys and wherefores.  (That can come later.)

‘Cloris’, however, seems to be coming from nowhere, going nowhere…

It is not very exciting, maybe.

But – when I decided to put the ‘Alfred and Suzie’ story (that I called just that) into the blog, it got me thinking.  Not all that much seems to happen in that, yet there is something going on, underneath, not stated.

And it was the idea of seeing the caller’s hat through the window in the door that appealed to me in some strange way.

I knew that ‘Alfred and Suzie’ was autobiographical, in a way – it could have been about me and my husband, though fictionalized.

And then I realised that ‘Retail Therapy’ was also an ‘Alfred and Suzie’ story, and went back to it (this was after it had been posted for a while), and added Alfred’s name early in the story.  I tried to add Suzie’s, somewhere, but that didn’t work – it didn’t sound right when I read it out to myself (aloud, of course) – the story seemed to depend on the ‘he said…she said…he said’.  But the addition of the name ‘Alfred’ instead just ‘he’ at the beginning of the story helped to identify it as an ‘Alfred and Suzie’.

That story also was about situations that I knew in real life and that I had used as a springboard into fiction.

And then there was the story ‘Cloris’, which I further appended as an ‘Alfred and Suzie’ story in the title – just to help my readers identify it as such.

But I knew who ‘Cloris’ was – as a character, she was based very much on someone I used to know, though that someone never wore a hat!

I think many writers use autobiographical details, and make up characters based on individual people they used to know – or use a conglomerate of many different people they knew to create one character – or make a character from a hybrid of a couple of people they used to know.

In ‘Alfred and Suzie’ I hadn’t exactly made a decision to get those characters on to the page in that way – it was more like – it happened, and then I realised what I had done.

I do have reams of writing lying around (on paper as well as on the computer), and it is time to start going through that now, and even begin to group things together, where I can.

I just had this idea that the separate ‘Suzie and Alfred’ stories could be treated as plot points (I was never good at plotting) – I could, eventually (especially if I manage to produce more of them), join up some dots between them to produce a longer narrative involving those characters.

It might happen, or I might not get to the end of that exercise, but the interest for me would be in attempting that, over time, to see where it might lead me.



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