I admire those writers who can sit down and plot out an entire novel in advance. I’ve never experienced it, but I imagine all the gut-wrenching, hair tearing uncertainty coming at that stage and the actual writing being a breeze. Once you’ve got the outline done, you sit down to write it. Easy, breezy, beautiful. Okay, so that’s the Cover Girl motto, but you can see how it might apply.
Me, I have to write to find out where I’m going. I can’t come to know the characters until I write them out and wrestle with their voices and their world views. Take my current novel (please!). I keep learning things about my heroine and her BFF (until death do they part) that are complete game-changers. I suspect that this is going to be a novel that I write, and then rewrite to add in all the twists I [...]
Continue reading Mantra
As far as I’m concerned, anyone who always behaves exactly as expected is a construct and not a character, literary or otherwise. That’s because living, breathing people—and your characters should certainly come across that way to the reader—are unscripted. They’ll frequently frustrate and surprise you. In that way, my characters are to me just like people, family particularly, because no one else gets under the skin in quite the same way.
The reason I’m a pantser rather than a plotter is that by the time I come to the end of a scene or a chapter, I’ve frequently learned something I didn’t know when I sat down to write. Sometimes it’s a bit of background on the character, something he or she has suddenly revealed to me (yes, writing often feels to me more like discovery than creation). Sometimes it a dogleg in the action, because I thought one of [...]
Continue reading Of Quirks and Characters