Writing novels is getting to be quite the eye-opener for me. I was never sure I could sustain an idea for tens of thousands of words. So far I’ve got two in the first draft stage and a third with more than 16,000 words that I started on April 15. I am having the time of my life with it.
I belong to a wonderful writing site, Absolute Write, and I’ve learned a great deal there from warning signs for lousy publishers and agents to how to write a book proposal to just plain how to write.
What comes up often is how characters reveal themselves to the author. This used to throw me. Before I had two hints to rub together to spark a clue I thought that the author came up with the character and took it from there. Then I read about characters suddenly announcing all manner of interesting things to a tickled, if bemused, creator.
I didn’t understand. Then it happened to me.
This is what characters do. They are their own people. I am just their creator and frankly, there’s not much I can do once I’ve breathed life into them. They get what they want or they punish me.
In my first manuscript I had two characters mostly sorted out until they decided that their species are sex shifters.
Then halfway through the book another character walked out of the bush. It’s the same species, but pre-pubescent and therefore neither male nor female. This was news to me.
I thought I had most things figured out for the second book until one of my characters announced she was a lesbian. At first I tried to talk her out of it because I had no clue how to go about writing about her. She wasn’t having any of it. She is who she is and good for her. It’s better for the story that way. She also likes to wear her boots without socks. I tried that for about an hour. I don’t share the joy of it.
I wrote the second manuscript to take my mind off the first. Just before I finished it I got the idea for the third ms so I got going on it. The characters didn’t say too much to me initially. I had some ideas on my own and wrote them, but that was about it.
Then I made the classic error. I wondered why they weren’t revealing anything. The next thing I knew a kindly old lady in a funny hat announced she had five university degrees and an IQ of 147. Her degrees are in a branch of advanced mathematics, Environmental Psychology, and Cryptozoology. She hasn’t told me about the other two yet. I complain that I won’t be able to write about her properly. She laughs at me.
If nothing else writing books is a wonderful lesson. I’ve learned about sustaining ideas and punting things that don’t work no matter how much I’ve put in to them. I have learned my subconscious will direct me and to put my complete faith in my Muse, Marie-Josee.
And I’ve got to say it, I am having a blast.