Totally Out Of Control. Writing, that is (seemingly, at least) – it’s not just the way I do it, either – Characters roam off, following their own dreams, plots crack open in new and surprising ways, giving glimpses of potential and new directions, and writers bump into things that shake them, move them or otherwise inspire them to tweak something – yes, again – The whole process is messy and may, on the surface of things, look to be totally out of control.
I never realized just complicated the activity is until I started telling You Lot about it, and I’ve been writing 45 years for a very long time now.
How does it get so messy?
The spark of a story, for me, is usually an emotion, something born from unusual circumstances, which (if I can make them so) are nice and tight and twisty. The process from deciding on the emotion to settling the details of the circumstances might take minutes or months. It’s all, at this stage, in the mind. It’s also tidy.
If the concept and details excite me, I work on how such a set of circumstances could come about. This is important. It will also take more time and is likely to get messy because it has to be realistic. If readers don’t believe the circumstances, they won’t believe the emotions or the story. I can’t just say it is so, either. To make those circumstances real, I have to give them legitimacy. Giving reason for those circumstances to exist also gives me a backdrop, a place where this can happen.
Still in the mind, this continues to come as (mostly) clean blocks of information.
After that comes character development – yes, you can see trouble coming, I know you can.