Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fun, Mysterious, or Just Plain Creepy?

By Pat Stoltey

Some of the most amazing things happen while we're writing. We might sit down to type a chapter that we've worked out in advance. An hour later, we create an unplanned scene that came from nowhere and might even take our characters in a different direction than we expected.

Some writers prefer to write from an outline. I've tried it, but my story never stays on track. My outline becomes a moving target, as dynamic as the novel manuscript. I'm a very fast typist, and it sometimes feels as though my fingers are way ahead of my brain. I love those moments, but I don't know how they happen.

My current novel-in-the-works is in the revision stage to fix a few plot problems that reared their ugly heads after I submitted to my critique group. The main character is a woman on the run. At the beginning of the story, she thinks she's merely leaving her husband and wants to make sure he can't follow her until she's ready to talk to him. Everything goes wrong, of course, and my character ends up running from bad guys, the police, and eventually, the FBI.

At one moment in the story's first draft, when I thought she was trapped and would probably end the scene in handcuffs, my character stepped it up a notch and got away. Well, good for her, I thought. But I don't know how I came up with the getaway idea or while it waited until I was typing to surface.

Another day I charged into a tense scene with one of my very bad guys in a very bad temper...and he dropped dead. I jerked my hands off the keyboard and read the scene again. Where did that come from? I have no idea, because it wasn't how I expected the scene to go.

Do you ever experience writing that seems to come from your fingers instead of your mind? Is the idea fun, mysterious, or just plain creepy?


Lynn said...

I admire your ability to let your characters make their own moves. Not to sound too woo-woo, but there are moments in writing when I think the writer is channeling, more than making the decisions. I chalk it up to our amazing brains in a mysterious universe -- nothing creepy about it!

Claire L. Fishback said...

I love it when the unexpected happens! Fun? Mysterious? Creepy? I say it's just plain awesome.

Julie Luek said...

Even in nonfiction, where you think you know the outcome, a surprise thought or a turn of phrase will appear seemingly from some external source. I've learned it's best to just promise to show up and do the work and pray that someone more adept will guide the words!