Monday, September 21, 2009

Novel 101: Begin Wherever You Start

A few weeks ago, I was a couple of days away from going back to a WIP I'd set aside last April. Back then (last spring) I was going back to the drawing board and completely rewriting/revising a novel I thought I'd finished several times. I finished that rewrite at the end of June, took some time away from all writing (except thinking about it), then did another read-through and tweaked things here or there and sent it off to my agent.

Then I skipped town for a week.

Then I was ready to go back to that WIP. I knew the characters, knew their voices, had the whole story arc in mind.

But, the week I was getting all ready to dive back into Full-Writing-Mode, something happened. Something I had very little power over. Absolutely no control.

A mother started telling me things. She wouldn't let me go. I couldn't ignore her no matter how hard I tried. And, damn, what she had to say was incredibly compelling. I even found myself dreaming about her. Seriously.

So, I started writing her story. And her daughter's. And then, the detective who's working with them started telling me about some of the struggles in her life.

And an image was in the background, an image that lends itself to a really lovely, haunting title.

So, I began writing. Not the story I thought I'd be writing, not even, necessarily where I thought it would start. But I began it. And I've pecked away at it nearly every day since then. It's starting to take shape. The characters are telling me more, letting me into their lives. And I can't stop thinking about them. It's kind of like falling in love.

Scary, thrilling, and never quite what you expect.


Carleen Brice said...

Ah, new love! Ain't it wonderful?

Sharon Mayhew said...

Isn't it exiting when a story comes to you. Do you formally plot out a story?

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

It is, isn't it, Carleen? It's all fresh and new and you can't see any faults yet.

Sharon, I do love it. I don't know how "formal" I get--lots of notes jotted down and a general sense of where I'm going . . . but I always know my final scene.

sue mitch said...

Is there a nice clergy woman in the story?

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Not yet, Sue. But there's still plenty of time.

sarah Pekkanen said...

How lovely and exciting, to have that happen. I hope the rest of the book goes as smoothly!