Writers are often asked things like, “How’d you name your characters?” and “Where’d you come up with that idea?” When I’m asked, my answer is often along the lines of, “I don’t know. The characters simply told me, and that’s how it is.” Which is usually the case. The second installment of Book Trivia is about
How’d you come up with the big idea?
Would it disappoint you to know that I don’t really come up with ideas? Or, I never feel like they’re my own ideas. As stated above, the characters told me and that’s how it is. Sure, I might have a thought… but it’s less like my own idea, more like something I was told and then remembered. For instance, as I wrote Book 1, I began to “fall for” Robert, a supporting character. And his story emerged. It was as if someone had once mentioned this guy she knew, and told me all about him, and I only needed to remember what she’d said. And write it down.
As a matter of fact, sometimes as I’m writing I think, “NO! What are you doing?! That’s a terrible idea!” and also, I have been known to get mad at characters who don’t do what I want them to do. Miranda has a not-so-great idea which causes a little tension in Book 2. Back when I was writing the first draft of Book 2, I wrote in my journal, “I hate Miranda. How could she screw things up so badly with Robert? … And I hate crying. These stupid people break my heart. And now I feel sorry for Miranda. She knows how badly she screwed up. and her heart is breaking too, so I’m sitting here crying at my computer, feeling all her feels. devastated.” *edited for brevity–there was a LOT of vitriol involved that day. 🙂
How do you get started at all?
Well, I see a scene in my head, and try to describe it. I just start writing and whatever happens, happens. I might think I know what is going to happen, but I’m sometimes surprised–or perturbed, or even horrified–at the direction a scene or character takes.
Some writers are Plotters. They have an idea and from that kernel, they begin an outline. As they see the story, they take notes, building a plot. They basically know what’s going to happen from beginning to end–not necessarily each detail, but the biggish plot-points. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. 🙂
I’m what is known as a Pantser. (Writing by the seat of my pants.) I write Romance, therefore I know these few things:
1. Boy and Girl meet
2 (or 3). They fall in love
3 (or 2). There are misunderstandings
4. Despite the misunderstandings, all comes round right and ta-da!
5. Happy-Ever-After (HEA).
I’m okay with this! Though I have flirted with plotting occasionally, it’s just not my type. I start at the very beginning, maybe write a little bit about Boy and Girl to get to know them a little, but then, as soon as I “see” the first scene, I’m off. And I just keep writing until I find my–I mean their–HEA. I’m only 3 books into this writing thing (mid-stride on the third) but I have never once known exactly how it was going to end, or how we’d get there. I like that. I like that the story is as much a surprise to me as to the reader.
Well, that sounds easy! Why doesn’t everyone do that?
BWAHAHAHA! easy… yep. I might have left out a few things… like how I stop if I get stuck (or most recently, how I stop if I don’t like the direction of the story. Dumb stubborn do-it-their-own-way characters). And the crying and self-doubt. The self-editing multiple drafts, and then further rounds of editing by trusted other eyes. More crying… Yeah, I left those parts out. Because drudgery is not glamorous. (And when I cry, my face gets all red and puffy. I wouldn’t like you to see all that. 🙂 )
Oh, well then, why do you do it? It sounds like a pain.
My dear friend, you have no idea. It IS a pain! Just like raising kids. Or puppies. And it’s glorious and wonderful, and, yep, painful. There’s so much that doesn’t make it onto the final printed page; just like in life, there are so many moments that don’t make it to our photo album. The messiness, the tantrums, even the stillness… and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.