I was asked a great question from a wonderful lady to go on her own blog. She asked me about how some authors seem to set off to write a story, then somehow during the process the story can take on a whole new personality somewhat different to what the author had in mind. She asked me what my take on this was when I write? This was my reply.
Oh and by the way check out her blog it’s really good. It’s http://www.lindasbookbag.com
To me there are two types of writers. No matter what genre a writer may choose, whether it’s romance, a crime novel or even fantasy most novelists chose to write in two different ways. The first group could be described as the ones who simply sit down and write by the seat of their pants until their novel is complete.
Now I must admit I’m completely in awe of these authors. I believe Ian Rankin is one of these types. I’m sure I read somewhere that he goes off to his house on the north east coast of Scotland, sits down and simply writes until he has his first draft complete. No planning ahead, nothing. Apparently he doesn’t even know how the story is going to end or even who the guilty party is until he gets to the big reveal. This, he says, keeps the story exciting and it also lets the creativity of the writer flow.
So all in all I’m not going to disagree with the man. I mean let’s face it he’s one of the biggest and most successful writers around with millions of fans, so really he can’t be wrong, can he?
Anyhow, I’m going to put my hand up and say I have tried this approach to writing a number of times and failed miserably. The problem is for me I just to get into a story only to find I just grind to a halt as my story runs out of steam.
Because of this I have made the decision to join the ranks of the second group of writers. This second group being the ones who plan their work from start to finish trying to keep within the so-called narrative ark.
So this leads onto my book, The Burden of Truth and how I planed it. I will also tell you how, quite often my best-laid plans do not work.
When I first sat down and decided to write my novel I asked myself, What do I want from all of this?
The answer I gave to myself was probably what many authors would answer anyhow. Interesting characters, great settings, and a good strong plot with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader interested. So really no surprises there.
With this in mind I started on planning my novel and after two months of hard plotting I finally had a good idea of what I wanted to put into my book. Everything was worked out from the layout of the chapters to what the characters were going to do and even how they were to interact with each other. Everything was sorted from page one right to the end.
Now, with this plan all laid out I sat myself down and started to write, and all in all I was quite happy on how it was going at the start. Now I can’t really say how far into the book I was when I realised this happiness was somewhat dissipating rather quickly. Deep down I knew the book was not working. It needed more; as a matter of fact it needed a lot more. I knew deep down this story did not have a heart never mind a message.
So once again I looked at the plan. I also started to think again. Why was it not working and how was I going to add that little extra and make this story work and give it the heart it needed?
Then it came to me; the protagonist Brent. He wasn’t developing as a person. He was not moving on with his life in the slightest. Perhaps he was just going through the motions of life but not moving on with it. Now I knew where I could give the book some heart but the question was, how?
So there I was once again with my thinking cap on. Where can I get this heart? Then it came to me; Shantie! She’s one of the characters who Brent meets just after he has caused a bit of trouble so to say. Now let me tell you a little about Shantie. She’s a beautiful half English, half Indian lady who was brought up in the town of Bodhgaya in India. The town where the Buddha gained enlightenment. It was here where she learnt many Buddhist teachings from the monks around her.
Now I had an idea. Perhaps she could somehow pass some of these teachings over to Brent. With this he would have the chance to build and develop as a character.
Now I was happy again. Now I could move on and finish the story and give it the heart it deserves. However, to finish the story, I had to start again right from the beginning. Because I had made these changes to Brent’s character the original plot fell apart. Anyhow, I knew it was going to be a lot of extra work but I didn’t mind though because it was what I wanted and so it was, a year and a half later I had my first draft copy and obviously nothing like the first plan.
However, all in all I’m quite happy of the end result and I think my readers are too, even though the story took on a totally different identity as I expected.
Take care all and don’t forget. Live, laugh and love.