As a fiction writer you can be, apparently, a plotter or a pantser. Or maybe a little bit of both. That last category is where I seem to fall, but with an emphasis on the pantser.
I have been saying that, when I had the inspiration for this novel, the entire plot came to me. By which I mean, the entire arc of the story and five or so key plot points that would get me from beginning to middle to end. And, perhaps even more importantly, an understanding of all of the important and relevant qualities of the civilization and world in which the story would take place. Since that day, not quite four weeks ago, I’ve been writing and writing and writing (35,000 words and counting!). And in that time, the actual story – the characters, the details, the driving actions and motivations – have been revealed to me, piece by piece, scene by scene.
There’s really no other good way to explain it. When I sit down to write, things happen that I had no idea were going to happen. I learn about my characters – about their motivations and backgrounds and plans. And I find out as I go how they will get from point A to point B.
I think about the story when I’m not writing, but not in the sense of planning out what will happen next. I think about my larger vision for the story, about the more far-reaching things that I want to see happen. Then, when I sit down to write, I find out how the story is going to rise up to meet that vision.
I don’t mean to make it sound like this is some amazing masterpiece that I’m working on. This is not the next Great American Novel. But I am incredibly confident about it and I believe that it is a good story. And, perhaps even more importantly, I am having the time of my life writing it.
The feeling that the story already exists and is merely using me as a conduit to find its way into the world is almost transcendent. It makes me believe that I can write anything if I put my mind to it. It makes me trust the power of art in a way I never have before. And it makes me so, incredibly and overwhelmingly, grateful.
And that, my friends, is a good place to be. I hope you can all get there, too. Wherever that there is for you.