Ah serendipity . . . You are My Favorite!

First let me say that the day-and-night job should now go back to being mostly the day job. YES!!

I have been making progress on Not Proper Enough. Not as much as I would like since I’ve been in day job heck since April, really. But things are going well enough. Anyway. I’ve also been listening to the RWA11 DVD and loving it as usual. This year I attended maybe 1/2 a workshop and there were many I wanted to go to and just couldn’t.

The usual split between structured and unstructured writing processes continues in the workshops. I usually get all tense listening to the craft session workshops because so many of them involved a structured approach. So far, I am hearing slightly more recognition from presenters that there are writers out there for whom a structured approach doesn’t work, but I’m not seeing any attempt to adapt materials so that other writing styles can process the information. I’m not actually sure it’s possible. There’s nothing worse than listening to a writer lay down a method that feels opaque and for the unstructured writer, charts and outlines are opaque. Just as, I am quite sure, the “write it and see what happens” feels opaque to a writer who with a structured method.

It seems to me that writers should be able to talk about characterization — as it appears in the final version –without relying on the process by which one arrived at that end product as the means of conveying the challenges of characterization in a novel.

At any rate, I’m now going to give all you structured writers hives by talking about how the WIP (Work In Progress) just progressed. What I need to find when I’m writing is the heart of the relationship between my hero and heroine. And, it’s only when I put the two of them on the page and get them interacting that I start to see that that is. Sometimes I know more about one of the protagonists. Say, for example, in My Dangerous Pleasure, where the hero (Iskander) had appeared in three previous books and got some major page time in some of them, while the heroine was referred to in Book 3 as Iskander’s tenant. She was not mentioned by name and it was only one line. And yet, when I wrote that line, I saw in my head this entire thread involving her. I knew about her the very second Iskander opened his door (in book 3) thinking it was his tenant who had knocked. (It wasn’t) and I knew at that very moment that she was Iskander’s heroine.

In Not Proper Enough, the hero and heroine are minor or secondary characters from Not Wicked Enough, which fact I did not know until I was about halfway through writing NWE. I knew various things about them and what they were like. And then I wrote this scene in Not Wicked Enough (when Not Proper Enough was only a future point of panic in my brain) when one of those two characters looked at the other one and a subthread popped into my head. Those two had a history . . . . and that history informed the scenes with them in NWE.

So, now I’m writing those two directly and I know that sub-thread from  NWE and what backstory informs their present story. But how will that impact their future? I know the only way for me to find out is to write them. I know that I will be writing along and that eventually something unexpected will happen. One of them will say or do something and there’s this little “click” in my gut that says, this is it. I’ve learned not to ignore that. Even if it’s a scene that I eventually cut — the emotional core of the scene remains. Thus, I may end up with surface action that is trite or silly (quite common when I have fewer than 30-40K words) but the core is there and my job, I have learned, is to work that core into every single scene.

Every time I feel that click, I know I need to go there. I can outline and plan until I’m blue in the face and I will NEVER have that click. I have to be writing the scene for it to happen. And then I know where I need to head in the next few scenes.

Last night the serendipitous throw away line happened. Only, of course, it’s not really just coincidence. It’s the result of all the writing that went before including scenes I ended up reworking or discarding. It’s the way my writer-brain works. It doesn’t matter in the least if some other writer plans her story before she writes it. Plan away, you structured sorts.

I, however, will not be plotting or planning.  And yet we’ll both end up with great stories on the page.



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2 Responses to “Ah serendipity . . . You are My Favorite!”

  1. Julie Anderson says:

    I enjoyed and appreciated your insights into your process.

  2. Thanks. A lot of other writers get scared when they hear about it . . . I left out the gory details in this post.