Thursday, June 11, 2009

HEY! Who's writing this thing, anyway?

So today I set out to write a scene in Breaking the Rules. As with most scenes, I had it loosely planned out in my head. I knew the basic chain of events that I expected to happen but was, as always, open to suggestions from my characters.

Once in a while, I'll go into a scene with almost no clue what's going to happen. That happened last night: I knew my two characters were going to have a conversation about a particular topic. I knew a few things that would be mentioned. But beyond that? Nada.

End result? 2,000+ words later, I knew things about my characters that hadn't even occurred to me. And it paved the way perfectly for the subsequent chapters which I had planned, but wasn't quite sure how to execute. So, sometimes, all you have to do is take a couple of characters, add water, and see what happens.

But most of the time, I have a general sense of what's going to happen. Or so I think.

So, today, I started writing a scene. As usual, I had it more or less planned out in mah brainz. This will happen, then this, then that, then a little more of this, etc. Guesstimated 1,500-2,000 words, since most of my chapters fall into that range. Started writing.

My characters, evidently, had other ideas. Not two sentences into it, my female MC tried to steer things another direction. Thinking it was just me trying to get into my groove, I resisted, trying to force them to follow my lead. You'd think I'd know by now not to argue with my characters, but I did it anyway.

After struggling for a while, after I'd written maybe 200 words, my female MC looked at me with murder in her eyes and said, "Look, bitch, we're doing this my way." Duly chastened, I quietly sat back and took notes while she - true to her word - did things her way.

For 5,000+ words.

5,000+ words I barely remember writing.

And it worked. It worked way better than the way I saw the scene playing out when I started.

(And for the record, yes, the particular scene in question was one of those scenes (tm))

This sounds insane to you non-writers, and perhaps some of you writers, but it's actually really cool when it happens. It seems to happen a few times with every book, those moments when the characters completely take off with a scene and leave me going "Wait, what? Who-where did that come from? HEY!"

These are the times that make the frustrating, this-is-worse-than-pulling-teeth moments worth it. It's a rush when you're not making up the story, you're letting it happen on its own, and things come out of left field that surprise you as much as they would if you were a reader reading it for the first time. Even better, when you write it, go back and reread it, and don't even remember writing half of it.

That, my friends, is being in the zone. That is what I live for as a writer.

Scarlett experienced the same thing recently with her WIP. Her male MC - who has pretty much hijacked the entire story anyway - decided to take the current chapter in a completely different direction than she'd originally planned. Scarlett, being wise in the ways of not arguing with characters, followed. The end result was one of those chapters that she barely remembers writing, and I barely remembered to breathe while reading. It. Was. Awesome. I know the rush she felt as a writer, of course, but it also worked its way to me as a reader. I read it going, "ZOMG, this is...whoa..." I only hope my "in the zone" chapters are half as good as what I read yesterday, because...damn.

Bottom line? Don't argue with the voices in your head.


  1. Why thank you, Madam. *blushes*

    Yeah. It's a weird feeling reading over a chapter you don't even remember writing. Maybe it's a British thing, we don't like boasting and saying "I was in the zone."

    But yeah, I was. Deal with it.

    That's not to say 'zone-chapters' don't need editing. They do. Just less than others. And they're more about taking the story in an unexpected direction than writing Golden Prose.

    I think these chapters come from our subconscious. A truer, deeper part of our consciousness, underneath all the bullshit we put on for the benefit of other people.

    /wankyhippie mode off

  2. Love it when that happens!!!

    Love it, love it, love it, love it, love it!!!

    Also, having read said scene... *dies*

    You rawk.

    *Menny hugs*