Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't Know Where We're Going

I had better come clean and admit that I have no idea what my characters are going to think or say or even do next. Certainly I don't know what I'll write tomorrow, and often I don't even know what's going to happen in the next sentence.

Unless I'm on a roll, that elusive-as-spidersilk moment when all friction vanishes and I forget I'm typing, and I've disappeared completely and just living the story.

When that happens I don't even know that I don't know what happens next.

This is one reason I look forward to these morning writing sessions: I get to find out what happens next! It's the closest thing to reading I can imagine -- thinking overnight about the characters and their problems, wondering how they'll react or what they'll say.

I have a rough idea of the story, a few images I want to be sure to capture, and an overall feeling for the emotional arc. I know where we're going but I don't know how we're getting there -- the characters and me -- until I read it on the page.

So who is doing the writing? Is it Scary Me, who sleeps all day and paces the hallways at night, gaunt and hollow-cheeked, wringing his long-fingered hands and muttering story ideas? A muse? Creepy Possessed Hand?

All I know is that I sit down and get to work. And when I work, it sometimes -- sometimes -- works too.


Laini Taylor said...

Funny, I just wrote about this same thing today. I am less brave than you, and my characters less forthcoming with ideas of their own! I like the idea of "Scary You" and Creepy Possessed Hands. Very funny!

S R Wood said...

When it's working, it doesn't feel like 'writing' so much as just watching the story unfold and taking notes as fast as I can. This is all too rare!

When it's not working it feels like the characters are sulking and refusing to do anything, or think anything, and everything slows to a crawl.

But either way I feel a curious detachment from it. Strange!