Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
There are many books I could have chosen for this one, as books colour and shape my opinions all the time. I chose Wicked by Gregory Maguire because of the way this book changed my opinion on writing, and of stories.
If you don’t know Wicked, it’s the story of the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba,) and how she came to be the villain in the Wizard of Oz. The musical is rather different in plot from the book, but captures the essence of the story very well. ‘No one Mourns the Wicked’ is a very apt song for this book, and apparently the title of this song was what made Gregory Maguire agree to the stage production. (I went on a backstage tour on Broadway, I LOVE the musical.)
Anyway, Wicked didn’t change my opinion on a political issue, or some moral discussion. Instead, it made me look at stories in a different way, in how switching the viewpoint can completely change the background of a story, how much depth there is behind a story that is yet to be explored in most novels.
Stories are not a single plot line rolling through the vastness of space, they are universes. They are complex string designs where everything connects to everything else, even if, in the narrative of your story, you never put the rest down on paper.
My grandparents had a number of these. Apparently my dad made some of them. But the point is, it’s three pieces of string, they intersect and carry on. This is what a story is. If a string is a plot, at the start the field is clear, but as you carry on, the events you’ve already created will intersect and influence future choices, they will show as to why characters act the way they do.
If you take a single straight line as a story, the intersections across that line are your plot points, but you never see all the other vast space of plot and events that created your plot.
Vast universes of storyies, we just happen to only choose one or two of them to write about. – Or if you’re Terry Pratchett, you slowly work your way through every string and every line. Expanding your universe around you.
Reading Wicked may not have changed my opinion on gay marriage or the state of the welfare system… but it changed my opinion on stories, and made me a better writer because of it.