I’m now thirty thousand words in to my latest expedition in fiction. That’s probably about a third of the way through, though I’m not sure yet. If my rough plan’s about right, I should be done with the first draft around October.
What I said in a recent post about that magic tipping point when, as an author, I become as much a Reader as a Writer still stands, but today I realised something else too – something that also keeps the fires stoked.
Every time I write some more, I learn something new about my characters.
For example, I hadn’t realised until a couple of days ago just how insecure one of them was; and then I discovered how they tried to process that, and the things they did in order to compensate or overcome it. I didn’t know just how much they would see it as a weakness – nor where they would begin to lay the blame.
Of course all this fits perfectly with the story I’m trying to tell, and when something seems to come from nowhere but fall perfectly into place, I find myself wondering just how much of the story I already have lodged in my subconscious. These magic moments, incidents that seem God-given, are almost too good to be true.
Perhaps that sense of being subservient to the story supports the notion of Writer as Reader. Or perhaps ‘Translator’ is a better term, I don’t know. But these are real people now. I can see them, almost as if they were scenes from my past and harvested from my memory.
The folklore is to tell people to write about what they know – and the complaint from writers is often that they don’t really know about anything. In a way we actually know about everything. If you have a sense of the individual – and you will have spent an entire lifetime getting to know people – then you can put characters in any situation and explore how they would react. Most of the time you will know, and sometimes you will find out.
As a writer, both experiences are, of course, absolutely brilliant..!