I do want to get back to character interviews, but the writing side of my life is nagging at me to write some posts and the characters are unusually quiet for the moment. So, what the hey? I’ll write more on writing.
While writing a book, I’ve noticed there is this odd thing that happens with every single book I write. The character will say or do something that throws me off track.
Back when I started serious writing in my last year of college (1998), I never heard the word “outline” in relation to creative writing. I just wrote from my gut. I’d start a story with no idea of where I was going. I’d just ask myself, “If I could do anything, what would I do?” and then I started chapter 1.
These days, I am more organized than this. I have plot ideas, character types in mind, and settings laid out before I start the first chapter. But I still have those moments when I’m writing a book where the characters are doing or saying something that makes absolutely no sense to me. I always stop writing when this starts to happen. I have to trust my gut instinct and keep writing. I have the impulse to hit the delete key, but the thing is, somewhere further into the story, it’ll connect up. I never know how or when, but it always does. It’s one of the strangest things I’ve discovered in writing books.
And this makes me think of how simple trusting the gut instinct was when I was younger. I simply went with it. I didn’t question it or try to stop it. I just thought, “I wonder what will happen next!” and kept writing. My point to all of this is that sometimes the child has some degree of wisdom that an adult can learn from.
Quick side note: other things adults would be better off learning from children include not holding a grudge, being honest with yourself, not tolerating people who mistreat you, laughing often, spending time on things that you enjoy so you don’t get burned out with things you have to do, and (as a writer) having fun with writing the story instead of worrying about what the critics think.
Yesterday I was writing a scene for Isaac’s Decision where Emily (disguised as Elmer) is talking to Isaac about books. (This is really a sneaky ploy of hers because she has to write an essay on a book that is not a dime novel and she’s trying to cheat by gathering information from Isaac on one of the books he’s read. This will get her in trouble with the teacher in a roundabout way but will also get Isaac to talk to her as Emily so it does fit into the overall plot.) So, I picked a book that was written in 1824 to research as I wrote the scene (I research as I go, not before I write a book; I’m too impatient to get to the fun part, which is writing). The book was actually a psychological thriller about a guy who justified killing other people, but you’re left wondering if the stranger who tells him it’s right to kill the people is the devil or if this stranger is really someone this guy imagined in order to help justify his decision to kill others. By the end of the book, this guy apparently is convinced he is not only justified in killing others, but he is actually doing the right thing in being a serial killer. It really does sound like an interesting book, and if I could stand the prose, I’d read it. But I’m not a fan of the way authors wrote back then because I find myself having to read sentences slowly or over and over them in order to understand what they heck they were saying. I tried reading a sample of that book and my eyes glazed over. Give me modern word usage over the historical any day of the week because it’s less work for me as a reader to decipher the historical way of wording things. It’s like Shakespeare. I get the modern translation. It’s no wonder I write the way I do even if I do historicals. The child within me prefers it this way. 😀
Oh, but anyway, I think the purpose to that book written in 1824 is how someone can make a decision and then rationalize it to the point where, if they’re wrong, they end up convincing themselves that they are right. This might play into Dave Larson’s character who made the decision to not forgive Neil (or his family) for what Neil did in Eye of the Beholder. Isaac, of course, will have his decision to make, which will be opposing his father’s command to not talk to Emily. As we know, Isaac will elope with her. Dave is going to be super pissed, and I think he’s going to have to justify his inability to forgive Neil and now his son. So I think that 1824 book might actually be symbolic to what will happen with Dave. Since I write romance, Dave and Isaac will resolve their differences, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see how that comes about.
*The book is The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg, in case anyone is interested.