Learning to be surprised

Ok, at first glance that sounds like an attempt to control the element of surprise. What I  mean is that as I write my first novel (second attempt having realized ~50K words in that my first attemp was BORING) I allow myself to let my characters speak and surprise me. Sometimes they even take control and something happens that I least expect. 

I read a lot of other author blogs and I find the ones who share their own writing experiences to be the most informative.  Not everything I read works for me or my style of writing but I am empowered by their experiences/travails and how they moved on or worked through issues.  Christy Reece (http://christyreece.blogspot.com/) often mentions that her characters are doing things she doesn’t expect or acting in ways not in keeping with what she had anticipated.  When she mentions this she always sounds like she enjoys it!

For myself, often instead of working out a scene beforehand I have to just lay it down and see what happens.  Just yesterday one of my peripheral characters surprised me by becoming more outspoken.  I have a sneaking suspicion he may be causing me more trouble in future.  The plans I have in my head did not include him!! He may be thinking of making a play for my main female character, who would have thought!?

This is what I mean by allowing myself to be surprised.  I am going to just keep moving forward and see what happens.  My first attempt was very rigid, ick. I had an outline that I tried to stick to with little room for change.  At that magic 50k mark I just couldn’t go on. My characters staged a coup demanding better staging, a more interesting life and less predictability. Sigh.

As a newbie there’s not much advice that I can give with any confidence.  What can be said though is — keep writing, do what works for you, try not to get bogged down by what is considered to be ‘traditional’ we are lucky to be writers in a world where there are fewer, fewer constraints and more surprises.

Happy Saturday!


About elisethroughthelookingglass

A currently unemployed stay at home mom with the long time dream of writing my own novel. Not the 'Great American Novel', just a fun read. Since I am now the parent of teenagers I have been relegated to the back burner and am tired of waiting for my favorite authors to get their books out. Wish me luck on my trip through the looking glass.
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3 Responses to Learning to be surprised

  1. I have this problem with my characters. I’m in the middle of a revision, and one of my (now) main characters was a minor character. He showed out one day and forced himself into the novel as more than a minor character. I blogged about it on my blog here: http://ebarnes23.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/theres-nothing-like-a-why-did-you-do-that-moment/

    I actually like when my characters do that because it makes the story more interesting in my opinion! I did what you said and I let him lead the way. My novel is so much better now!

    • That’s great!! I have a whole week to write next week and I have to admit I am a little nervous! Keep on writing….

      • The best thing to do is try to ignore those nerves and just write! I had a discussion with a fellow writer not long ago about writing, and we both decided that it was best to write no matter what; even if you think it’s garbage, you’re still writing and you can always edit later!

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