I really love the adventure that writing fiction presents. You truly never know what your characters are going to do or where your story will go until you set off on that winding path. While I’m the sort who writes “from the hip”, I believe that even the most outline-bound of us will find surprises as their work unfolds.
I’ve most recently encountered this while working on my current new project, which had been under the working title of Dubrow’s Last Case. With Frostwalker set for the final edit to begin in January, I had started a new novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt. Ultimately, that faltered when I decided to focus on getting the current short stories I have available ready for public consumption. After I had taken care of that I decided that, since NaNoWriMo was a bust this year, another short was in order and Detective Martin Dubrow was going to provide it.
Then something unexpected happened. As the good detective began his strange investigation into a brutal murder I began to see certain signs. There were plot threads forming in the mists at the limits of my creative vision. A possible love interest? What’s this about enemies thrust together in a fight for their mutual survival?
Work on Dubrow stalled while I puzzled out just what was troubling me about this story. Lying in the dark, mulling over the day’s writing – or lack thereof – I finally pieced it together: Dubrow’s Last Case wasn’t a short story at all – it was just one thread in the overarching story I had begun on November 1st. This was a story that demanded to be told!
And so, with my characters taking my hand and leading me once again, the parts have been joined as a whole. There was a bit of cleanup required; Detroit became New York, Fall became Summer, but the pieces fit surprisingly well considering the original intent was something completely different.
Often when we write, we don’t tell a story – we simply give it a voice.
Have you had a similar experience in your own creative endeavors? Why not tell us about it in the comments below?
Yes! I have totally had my characters “take over” before and turn my story into something more than I originally anticipated. I think that’s the best way to write. Follow the characters. Mine ave more interesting ideas than me anyway lol
Stephen King compared writing to uncovering a fossilized dinosaur skeleton. It’s all there, you just have to reveal it to yourself, digging it out over time.
I don’t know if I believe that, exactly. But I DO know that the story will reveal itself, as long as I give it a voice. There’s a flow to it, and when it’s hitting, it’s an amazing feeling!