Today I thought I’d share something about my writing process. I’m what in the writing world is termed a pantser. I don’t outline a book before I begin writing it. Usually going into it, I know the overall premise, the main characters and I know how it ends, but not always. Sometimes I find that out as I go.
For me, writing is discovery. I’m getting to know the characters, finding out what makes them tick, seeing what happens just like a reader would. Only, I’m living in the world and getting to know the characters over the course of about three months, which is about how long it typically takes me to write a first draft.
There are always surprises along the way. Things I didn’t expect to happen, characters doing things I had no idea they would. That sounds a little crazy, I know. But that’s normal for someone who daydreams for a living.
One of the books I’ve written, I went into it with the all of those things I said above. I knew who all the players were, and even how it ended, but in my vision of how this book was going to play out, there were bad guys and good guys, no grey areas. It ended exactly as I envisioned, but the tone, the characters I fell in love with and rooted for were not at all the ones I had originally planned.
I had written the first five chapters, maybe more with this idea of who this one particular player in the story was, but he was quietly picking at my mind, wanting me to hear his side, to tell his story. When I finally stopped trying to be in control, when I listened to what he had to tell me (not literally, but still in a way I can’t explain), the story blossomed into something I loved. A story that wasn’t just words on a page, but had life and breath and tears. There were lots of tears while I wrote his story.
And even though he wasn’t the main character, the POV (point of view) character, it was just as much his story as it was hers.
When I write, I always write from the girl’s perspective. Not because I don’t think I could write a boy, but because it’s what comes to me, but also because I’m usually telling a boy’s story too and I fall for them organically, like I would in real life, from the outside, watching them, seeing little things revealed over time that make me love them for who they are in spite of how life has tried to defeat them.
Even though I write from the girl’s perspective, I often empathize with the boy much more. It’s true when I’m reading a book too. I often see the book as their story, even though they aren’t the focus. I have much more tolerance for the boy character as well. I was raised to be a strong girl, and I think I expect that of all girl characters, whether I write them or not. Or maybe it’s because I’m in their head and therefore on some level, they are me too, because I’m reading or writing them.
I share this because my next blog post will be a glimpse forward in the Mortal Monster series.