Friday, July 2, 2010

Surprise

Last night I wrote just under 2000 words and I ended the stint with an event that finally launched my battle. Why'm I'm telling you this? Well, that event came out of nowhere and smacked me upside the noggin. I hadn't thought of what would actually begin the battle (think the arrow that the old guy accidentally fires off that starts the Battle of Helm's Deep in Peter Jackson's The Two Towers); in fact, I hadn't even worried about it.

You see, in many ways I'm a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer. About four years ago I sat down one afternoon and wrote out a synopsis of what I thought should happen in the novel I'm currently busy with (yes, four years ago; more on that in a coming post); It was very short-hand, summaries of events that led to events, etc what the characters were going to do, and so on. What has survived from that synopsis is the following: two characters and a non-human race. That's it.

When I attended the Random House Struik / Get Smarter Creative Writing Course from Feb to April this year I really began writing what I'm writing now and everything, every event, every character, has been evolving. Now I find that I'm planning chapters, and as of now I've got the middle and end of the big in mind, but not the in-between bits. I'm not really worried, though, because (so far) everything has been working well leading up to this battle scene; I've got my people in place, I've worked out strategies that both sides will use, and I know of one character who's going to die. Beyond that? Well, I'm open to surprising myself. :-) So far the characters have been living and breathing nicely (at least, in my estimation) and I'm mostly steering then while their attentions are focused elsewhere instead of turning their heads and moving their feet. I'm also discovering more about them as I write them - for example, the character that will die was, once, an extremely important character (albeit in a different guise) in the previous synopsis. Not any more.

Sure, it's taking me a long time to write this novel (30K in six months, yeah, I know) but I'm not working under a deadline -I'm not even published- so I've got the freedom to do this the way I want to. Maybe later I'll have to learn to make a detailed synopsis for every future novel (and there will be plenty, unless I die prematurely, of course) but for now, surprise and fluidity are the order of the day. That and some slack on the guide-ropes. :-)

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