By admin On Sep 24 2010, 1:13 pm
I’ve always thought I wrote in an unusual way. You see, unlike some other writers I know, I don’t have a strict plan for every bit of the novel I’m working on. I have a setting, and a vague story arc, but primarily I have characters and they’re what drive my work. I want to explore with them, and if that takes the story off down unexpected lines, so be it – I can always go back and amend the earlier bits of the tale to fit the new ideas. So long as we reach a satisfactory conclusion, I’m happy.
What I also find is that I’ll write something or somebody – or a little random event – into a story with no idea about what I’ll do with them/it or why they’re/it’s significant. I just know they have to be there. Now, I thought that made be a bit odd (no comments, please about how odd people already think I am). I was delighted to find that I’m not alone!
I was at the regular lunch held by the local chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association on Monday. They’re a lovely bunch, published and wannabe-published, romance writers, saga writers, crime writers, all of them delightful and full of wisdom. We fell to discussing how we construct stories and what our editors told us. We had people who struggled with just the end of novels, ones who were being told to put more romance into their stories, or who were fighting over proposed titles for their next books. Inevitably there were as many experiences and opinions around the table as there were people.
Imagine my delight to find that at least two other writers found they included things as their stories developed, for no other reason than they ‘knew they had to be there’. One lady said she’d felt compelled to intoroduce a little white dog into the novel she was writing, even though it seemed nothing other than window dressing. Only at the end, when her heroine was in trouble, did the dog’s role become clear. He was there to fetch help – case solved!
I’ve had the same thing happen. A picture on a desk, white lilies on a grave, a bystander in a scene (one with a crush on another character) were all written in before I had any idea what to do with them. But each proved absolutely crucial to the denouement of the stories they were in. I’m a great believer in the workings of the subconscious mind, so maybe some part of my brain had got all the details worked out and all the jigsaw pieces in place while I was still fiddling around trying to work out what the outline represented and what picture was on the box…