A life of their own?

I’m currently on a self-enforced hiatus from my writing project on account of some freelance work. Aside from providing some always helpful cash, it’s has also giving me some time to plan the next part in terms of narrative and characters involved. Lots of notes are being taken, lists are being compiled, snippets of dialogue recorded before they evaporate, etc…

One of the thoughts that keeps coming back to me is about how the creative process works though. A conversation with a friend had some time ago came back to me. My friend was telling me how he had written a book once and found his characters most uncooperative, often pulling him in unplanned directions without his involvement. I found it a bizarre idea at the time, after all, who’s writing the thing?

Since then I’ve heard other takes on it. One person plans everything in great detail before writing a single word, another writes with pen & paper (already so archaic, eh?!) to slow herself down and force her to focus. Me, I’m increasingly finding that the trouble is getting the words down fast enough. The overall direction is planned in advance, and the details, well I make those up as I go along.

So where does that put me on the spectrum? It sounds like I’m a planner, feverishly recording everything before a word is composed, but it doesn’t feel like that to me. In fact, since I’ve been consciously thinking about it I’ve realised that new characters don’t get made up by me – they’re already there. I think through the scene, plan how it will go and what will happen to my protagonist and there they are, waiting patiently for me to get round to them so I can note their appearance, their defining characteristics, who they already are.

I do mean this quite seriously too, perhaps these are people I’ve met along the way in life, but they are the ones who wheedled their way into my book. In fact, all it seems is left for me to do is to put them somewhere and hopefully give them snappy lines of dialogue. So with my hand on my heart, Lode, Alphard, Regulus, Jonathan, Chloe Claire, Magic, Laurie, Dave and all the others I haven’t even met yet, I’ll do the best I can by you. I hope it does you justice.


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