Let’s get a conversation going this morning. I’ll start. 😀 I have a new mantra: It takes what it takes to tell the tale that needs tellin’. Bulky, yeah. Probably won’t look so great on a t-shirt. But I’ve finally realized that it embodies the way I write.
My beloved beta readers often ask me how many chapters will be in a book I’m working on. My answer is, I don’t have the slightest clue. I don’t work out the number of chapters at the start of my draft, because I never know where the story might take me. I know what it will be about, in general–where it will start, and where it will end. As for all the stuff that happens in between, not so much.
I may have one or two things I know must occur, but overall, the characters tell me what they want to do and why. And I let them. Not because it’s how it should be done, but because it’s the only way I, personally, can travel from point to point. I turn my characters loose in a setting and see what they decide to do, and write it down. They almost always surprise me.
In my current WIP, That Darkest Place, all I knew going in was that I’d left one of my characters from Finding Hunter in a horrible mess, and another one unharmed, but unhappy. I knew what I needed to do to fix the first one, and that the second one needed to find an HEA by book’s end. And that’s all I knew. As the story began to grow, the details came pouring into my mind, and the overall theme of the book came to me:
“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in, and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.” (Hunter Painter)
That Darkest Place is a book about brothers–how they stand together in the worst of times, and help each other make it out of those black holes of despair. As I wrap up my draft, and get ready for editing, I hope I’ve been able to tell their story in a way that will resonate with readers everywhere. But whether it works out that way or not, I’ve been true to who the characters are, and how they relate to each other, in good times and in bad. I’ve told the tale that needed tellin’, and I hope I’ve done it well.
Now. Your turn. How do you do it? Do you work out every scene in advance, or go with the flow? Do you have an overall theme in mind when you begin, or does it grow out of the story in a more organic way? I’m hereby inviting you to share your thoughts and ideas today, so we can enjoy getting to know more about each other, and possibly learn a few new tricks along the way.