Sunday, June 24, 2012

Where the Characters Take Us

Things have taken a bit of a turn in writing my sequel, Piercing the Darkness.

When interviewing other authors for my site, my favorite question to ask is (I'm sure you all know the answer to this one by now) whether or not they outline their novels.  When first conducting interviews, I was constantly surprised by how many times other authors stated they didn't outline and just let the story and the characters take them hither and yon.

Over the years, in almost all of the writing 'how to' books I've read, speakers I've heard, etc., etc. there is one clear and fairly unanimous refrain - outline, outline, outline.  So call me shocked to discover that I'm not the only one or even one of the few who ignore said refrain.

I've always been a bit of a rebel.

Or just stubborn.  My mom would call me headstrong.  But I digress once again!

Don't get me wrong - outlines serve a purpose for some writers, but they just don't work for me.  When I write I always have a clear idea of the beginning, end, and certain segments along the way.  It's like there's A and Z with a little G, L, P, and U intermingled and all I have to do from there is connect the dots without giving too much away.  So it isn't like I write completely blind.

But at times I am blindsided by twists and turns as those connections are made. 

Take for example, a character from Running into the Darkness.  This character was supposed to be a major player throughout the series, but as the ending neared, he walked up to me (in my mind, of course), laid down his weapon and stated that it was better for him to die in order to save my protagonist.

I fought.  I resisted.  I told him he was crazy.  Either that or I was.

In the end, it worked out perfectly as he sacrificed himself to save someone else.  It covered over a multitude of sins and left him with that endearing, redemptive quality we seek in all heros.  However, it left me in a quandry.

So in Piercing the Darkness, we have the introduction of a new character who was set up to fill a minor role left open by the demise of previously said character.  The interesting thing is that this new character has quickly developed a back story that has tongues wagging.  He has intrigued me to the point that his back story plays right into a deeper role I now need him to fulfill - and once again it's completely different than intended.

And I really, really like it.

Now things are moving really fast.  The pages are slamming out faster than I can count.  The story is flowing in such a way that I hope to have the draft finished up by summer's end.  Then it will ruminate for a month while we finish up the cover art and then on to final draft.

I can hardly wait to see where the characters take me between now and then.  Someone else will have to die in the end.

Guess we'll all have to wait to see who that will be.


  1. What a great descriptions of how a story and characters can change on you! I don't outline until I'm done the first draft and then I go through and make sure I've got all the bits and pieces necessary for a coherent story. That's when the index cards come out and my love of different color pens can be fully expressed.

    1. I LOVE the idea of using different colored pens. I may have to steal that idea from you, Emily! :-) I've got a page and ahalf of thoughts as I go back through this next draft, so I know what you mean about ensuring it is coherent. Thanks so much for visiting the blog and commenting!