When I began writing my second novel, I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go, and how I was going to get there. All my characters actually had names and back stories. I’d determined their actions, what was going to happen to each of them as the story unfolded. Most exciting for me, I already knew who was going to make it out of the story alive and who wasn’t.
November 1st came and I started writing.
Part one went as expected. I wrote most the events I’d planned for that section. Everyone was playing nice with one another and no one was making trouble. I was sleeping well, and my internal insomniac critic wasn’t trying to convince me I was writing crap.For a week, almost two, I convinced myself that the hiccups, the difficult nights that had plagued my first novel writing would be absent from this project.
Almost all at once, the wheels fell off that cart.
I’d always thought writers were full of crap when they talked about characters and stories resisting the writer’s wishes, pushing the plot to places the author didn’t expect and maybe didn’t want.
These are your creations, your ideas. Made up people can’t have wishes, can’t tell you they don’t want to play by your rules.
I was plotting out the initial pages of Part 2 when in my head, I heard one of my characters speak. His voice was not mine. His cadence, word choice and tone were exactly as I imagined they would be. It caught my attention.
“I would never do that,” he said. “Oh, and also, that ending you’ve got in mind, I wouldn’t act that way either.”
Shaking that sensation off, I started to write, determined to not listen to the made up person in my head. I must not have been getting as good of sleep as I thought. I wasn’t the type to hear voices, and certainly not the kind to listen to said voices. I’d write what I wanted.
Three pages in, I realized that voice was right. I stopped typing and deleted the offensive pages. Looking at the screen, I shrugged my shoulders.
“All right,” I said. “I can change a few things, make this or that happen a different way.”
“That sounds great,” the voice replied, “Also, I don’t want to die.”
I shook my head.
“That’s not up for negotiation. If you don’t die, then the other things won’t work out, and they have to work out or we don’t really have a story worth telling.”
“Well, can it be a little more meaningful and poignant death? Can I go out in style?”
I thought about it, running several different outcomes through my mind. It was easy enough to see a way to make that happen.
“Sure, you can die with some dignity and class.”
“Thanks. I feel much better about things now.”
“Great, now can we get to writing?”
“Sure. I’ll leave you be.”
Grateful for the silence and a bit relieved to no longer be talking to myself, I started to type again. I wrote three more pages when another voice from another character spoke up.
“Since you’re in the proper mood for negotiation…”