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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Post I Wrote While Exhausted

It always interests me how different writers are from each other on process and how they get their information. Some see their stories unfold like movies in front of them. Some outline and know everything that's going to happen before they write it. I'm not sure it's possible to find two writers with an identical process no matter how hard you look.

For me, I don't have my stories unfold like movies. I might get snapshots of a scene, but nothing more than that. I hear my characters. I hear their internal monologues, I hear the conversations they have with other characters, and I sense things. The feeling is so strong that even without the movie screen in front of me, I can kind of "see" things, although certainly not in a detailed way. It's why I look for pictures before I write (and while I'm writing, too).

Anyone who's visited the blog before knows I don't outline. I'm not completely a seat of the pants writer, and I never was, but I can't tell you everything that's going to happen in a book. I might have a few scenes to write toward and I do like having a short synopsis that gives me a framework for the story, but I write to discover the stories.

After The Power of Two came out, I received a lot of email asking what happened to the computer. I'll confess that it wasn't a question I'd expected. On the other hand, it was kind of cool that people considered the computer almost like a character and wanted to know its fate. I even heard from another author asking what had happened to it.

And I couldn't answer that question.

The way my process works, nearly every piece of information I have comes from the characters. If one of them doesn't know it, the odds are very good that I won't know it either, and while Cai was aware that something had happened to the computer, she had no idea what. Oh, she speculated, but she didn't know. So I'm getting all these emails asking and I'm like, um, don't have a clue. And even if Cai and Jake hadn't left long before this, I still wouldn't have a clue because neither of them knew.

There are times I really envy other authors' processes and I wish I could write like they do. There are times other authors' processes scare the heck out of me and I thank God for my process.

But the bottom line is write the way that works. The idea of 3x5 cards makes me break out in hives, but if they work for you, use them. Never, ever believe anyone who says their way is the only/right way to write. Untrue. I experiment with process when I hear someone doing something that I think would be cool. If it works, great! If it doesn't, I don't try to force it. Just go with the flow.