Monday, December 8, 2008

When In Doubt Just Use: ?

Here’s another “process” tidbit for you. But this one has a little not so unexpected twist.

When writing a book, obviously one keeps notes.
I recently jotted down some ideas for the book I am currently writing. With them, I found myself making a notation. A simple question mark next to one of the thoughts. For you see, I am not entirely sure that it is a viable idea. It certainly may help with the story, but then it may wind up dropping out of the narrative entirely. But I must keep track of it either way, to be sure. I’ll know when I get there, so to speak. I do it often, this putting a ? next to a line.

But where did I pick up the notation? Yes, that’s right, from reading Sir J.M. Barrie’s notebooks. He did just the same. (And some of them, in fact, were not included in the tale of Peter Pan.)

I’m not saying others don’t utilize this quick “perhaps” marking in their notes, nor even that Barrie started it. I’m just pointing out that it’s convenient and useful. And that I personally learned it from a modern mythmaker.

I will try and obtain a picture from Barrie’s scrawling and will post it when I do. I'll also try and make it be one of the "dropped out" ideas from Peter Pan. (Not calling it Peter and Wendy here since the notes would have been for the writing of the play.)

UPDATE: Ok, the only example I could find at this time is on the right. They are notes for the "Afterthought" to the story of Peter Pan. No, not the ones that led me to my book. Rather it is the beginning of the scene with Jane, Wendy's daughter. They don't look much like question marks, but trust me, they are.
It reads:
Peter Pan - Ten years later? Wendy grown up & Peter still a boy. (one-act-play?)
He incorporated it into the script for a One Night Only performance on the last night of the 1908 run. After a bewlidering fifteen minutes of darkness waiting for play's closing Tree Top scene, a baby mermaid (Tessie Parke) bid the audience to stay for an extra special piece by Barrie. The new scene generated a full quarter of an hour of applause.

Well, back to my notes...

1 comment:

Danielle Mari said...

I do the same thing! And I also encourage my students to write a "?" in the margin of literature we read whenever they feel confused by a passage. It works out well in a few ways--- they feel they can keep reading AND they have a great conversation starter the next day in class.
Now if only we could arm ourselves with giant "?" stickers and march out into Reality slapping them on whatever curious and inexplicable happening we encounter... I'd slap stickers on Paris Hilton, low rise jeans, White Castle hamburgers, and Hummer SUVs.