Ep 93: Elements 7 – Plot. Ingrid Horrocks talks to Pip Adam about water and her work Where We Swim.

In the first episode in the Plot season of Elements, I talk to Ingrid Horrocks about plot and narrative and what it is to write it.

There are four seasons in the Elements series. For the next three months we’ll be talking about Plot. I realised now I used the word ‘Plot’ because I liked the way it sounded with ‘Place’. When I talk about plot what I mean is how a story works. I’m talking about things like narrative and structure but also, something more basic than that – ideas like, Why are some of the world *in* the story and why are some *not in* it? What makes a story ‘finished’? What does a story need to do to make us satisfied?

Ingrid Horrocks (Image by Ebony Lamb)
Ingrid Horrocks (Image Ebony Lamb)

Some of the things we talk about are:

Ingrid’s new book is Where We Swim published by VUP https://vup.victoria.ac.nz/where-we-swim/

Ingrid wrote a great piece for The SpinOff about reading during a pandemic and you can read that here https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/28-03-2021/the-climate-crisis-is-seeping-into-books-and-making-them-really-really-weird/

In this episode we talk about two chapters in Where We Swim. You can read excerpts of these here:

‘On the Amazon’ https://www.newsroom.co.nz/readingroom/on-the-amazon

‘Days Bay’ http://www.ninthletter.com/horrocks

Toward the end of the conversation we talk about a paper Ingrid and Dr Laura Jean McKay are teaching at Massey called ‘Eco-fictions and Non-Fictions’. Here’s a poster for that course:


I really enjoyed the way Ingrid talked about crafting true events. I wonder if it would be interesting to keep your own ‘log’ for a week. Maybe set aside 5 minutes to free write about the day. You also might like to keep a link from the front page of a NEWS site for each day. At the end of the week you could see if there are any events that could be used to sort the work into a narrative. What would you focus on/pay more attention to in your next week of keeping logs? What would you pay less attention to? This could be an interested exercise to keep going for a month or so. You could either do your crafting as you go, or look at the log at the end of the month and see if it can be shaped.

Thank you Copyright Licensing New Zealand for funding the Elements series.

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