Aside from saying I hear voices in my head when I write, for me writing fiction is like watching TV in my mind. The difference being, I get to decide what the characters do and say. I always find it interesting that even though I have an outcome in mind for a “scene” in a book, how I get there often changes.
Earlier today I finished the first draft of what will become my fourth novel. I’ve been very fortunate to have the motivation and the time to write lately. And the words have flowed onto the keyboard. The story ended up where I expected, but it took some twists and turns that even I didn’t expect.
Today, I was writing the final conflict scene between the hero of the story and the bad guys, the denouement if you will, of the story. When I sat down at the computer, I expected one thing to happen. As it developed, I went an entirely different route. It ended up at the same place, but I moved people around and had a totally different person die than I had originally imagined. (You’ll have to read the book when it comes out to know what I’m talking about.)
The process is far from complete, though. A first draft is just that, a draft. It will go through four or five more revisions. Friends will read it for me, make comments and get as tired of the story as I am by the time I finally say enough is enough. For the record, there is no such thing as “complete” or “perfect” when writing something like this. You can always go back and tweak this or that, add or delete a detail, or revise one more thing. But there does come a point where you have to kick the bird out of the nest and say “It’s done!”
But this stage in the game is interesting, too. When I read a really good book that draws me in and carries me away, I’m often a little sad when it ends. It’s like missing a friend. You want to know what happens next in their lives. Writing a book is the same way, if even a bit more intimate. They aren’t just friends in a book. My characters are mine. They are my imagination. And when the story is “done”, I miss them. It makes me already start thinking about what will happen to them next. And this is the point where my notoriously short attention span kicks in (squirrel!) and I want to begin the next project before this one is finished.
I’m happy with how this story has come together, though. I began it a couple years ago and just couldn’t find the thread. It stayed on my To Do list for a long time. And then, suddenly, the spillways opened and out it flowed. I think with each novel and each short story I’ve written, I’ve gotten better at telling a story and making it flow. I hope you agree.
If you’ve never read one of my novels, the first chapter of each one is available on my website. Just go to the “Books” page.