Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surprise! I'm here!

I never set out to be a writer. In high school I was all about art. Drawing, painting, sketching, I loved it all. (Except pottery. I liked it but couldn't throw a pot to save my life!) Writing wasn't even an option. Mostly because I wasn't any good at it. I couldn't sit down and write anything. Not even a short poem. So the fact that I'm on the third edit of Tommy's story, writing a query letter and thinking up more stories is amazing!

When inspiration hits and a story forms in my head, I usually only see the beginning. I see the main characters and a few scenes. From there I start writing. I don't plot out my story or make an outline of what I want to happen. I just start writing and let it take me where ever. Usually I don't even know the ending, I wait, writing and learning about my characters until they decide to reveal how it all ends to me. Which makes the whole writing experience exciting because I don't know what's going to happen! It's a mystery and surprise.

The biggest surprise for me when writing is surprise characters. Characters that pop up and stay for the long haul. Or characters that inspire the main characters, keeping them on track, helping them on their journey.

Like Amy and Mackenzie in Being Human.

Amy is vampire, one that befriends Tommy. Which is no easy task. The vampires in Being Human are highly distrustful of each other and try to kill each other when they meet. But Amy becomes Tommy's friend, easing his distrust, showing him how vampires really are. She turned out to be a really sweet person, her personality mirroring the innocent child-like appearance she had (minus looking dead of course and being at least a century old.) I have to say, I'm quite fond of her and would love to have a story just for her. Maybe in the future I will.

Mackenzie, Tommy's niece, wasn't so much a surprise. What was surprising was how involved in the story she became. The whole third part she is Tommy's driving force and it continues through the story. Tommy summed it up pretty well in one chapter: I let my life revolve around my niece. She was the first human I saw when I came home, last one before I left and the reason I made sure my need never got too strong. I wasn't willing to risk hurting her in any way. I had to protect her from everything. Even myself.

Every story I've written has had at least one surprise character. Someone I had expected that kept appearing again and again, moving the story along, helping me tell it. Maybe if I tried plotting out my stories, I'd discover these surprise characters sooner, but honestly, where's the fun in that? Part of the fun of reading is the suspense, on the edge of your seat as you turn the page to discover the next surprise or meet someone new. For me it's no different, as both a reader and a writer. I can't wait to discover the next surprise, the newcomer that gives the story more depth or the ending I couldn't have imagined a few chapters earlier. It's part of the experience, the journey.

Fun fact, Being Human has three surprise characters: Mackenzie, Amy and Rissa who is Mackenzie's mom and isn't the least bit afraid of Tommy. I love that about her.


  1. So I'm not alone in discovering my characters as I go along! Hi, nice to meet you! I think outsiders (non-writers) think us insane for believing that our characters are living breathing entities that happen to reside in our heads. And they have their own agendas. Hey, maybe we are nuts!

  2. I write the same way -- some writers are plotters, and some just aren't wired that way. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to write a novel. It's whatever works best for you.

    That being said, short works I almost never plot out. Longer works take a bit more effort, and I might begin without anything in mind, but as the story progresses I find it helpful to make notes or plot out how to get to the end. For me, knowing the end gives me a goal to shoot for.

    Good luck! Sounds like you have it as much under control as any writer can with their sanity in the hands of ethereal creatures. Heh.

  3. Diane, my characters totally lead me around by my creative leash. I have NO control over any of them. But like I said, that's what makes it so fun!
    Netta, does coming up w/ scenes and typing them into the notepad on my cellphone count as plotting out? Cuz I do that! Infact, I'm out of notepad space. =|

  4. Sounds great and good luck...the more real and the less control you have, well, I've always found those to be my best stories! <3