I went to see Jeffrey Archer speak at Warwick School on Friday night. His subject was: How To Write a Bestseller.
I last heard Jeffrey address an audience probably about 23 years ago, this time at Sevenoaks School; and he said several of the same things (one of which was “I’m not a writer. I’m a storyteller.”
My thoughts at the time were dominated by the fact that he reminded me of Toad of Toad Hall. And this time, back again in the same role, posturing about the stage, Jeffrey did not disappoint. Jeffrey’s talks are entertaining. What you cannot claim is that they deconstruct “how to write a bestseller”.
As his wife Mary is quoted as saying several years ago, “Jeffrey has a gift for the inaccurate precis.”
However, Jeffrey’s talk was enjoyable, and I’m glad to have been in the audience for an evening which he was able to fit in during a weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, to see Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
I believe, too, that difficult as it may be to pin down, his storytelling secret lies in a grasp of structure. He demonstrated this when he set us a challenge to write a story in 100 words, which he himself had done for The Reader’s Digest. And this provides a helpful guide to his skill; a natural flair for a beginning, a middle and an end; and a gift for defeating his audience’s expectations.