Thursday, October 11, 2012

Okay, Okay! I'll Write You. Just Get Out of My Head. Deal?

Don’t forget to vote at the poll at the bottom of the page for the story you want me to write for NaNoWriMo. Thank you for your help!

Since I am in the throes of prep for NaNoWriMo (I type for 9 straight hours to build stamina--not real words, I just type letters), I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about being in the flow, being visited by the Muse, and other ways writers think to describe that magical kind of writing where it just seems to happen.

With each book, there has come a time when I lose track of everything and the language flows out my fingertips onto the computer page. It is amazing and it is uncontrollable. There are many more times when I chug along, hoping to make the day’s word count while it is still the day.

But for two of my books, Lucinda and Streetwalker, I lost control to my heroines. I truly felt as if I were channeling them, not writing my own creation. The feeling is so palpable that I have a tickler file on a writer who has that experience and is channeling another’s words and ideas until she decides to take control back--if she can.

Lucinda was my first completed novel. It’s historical fiction that takes place in two time periods that alternate chapters to tell the story of how Lucy solves Great-Aunt Lucinda’s murder 70 years later. I am an early morning person, and I wrote then. But I found myself with a tape recorder in my car to capture scenes for the book as I drove to work. I worked into the night! It was bizarre how Lucinda ensnared me. Turns out, it wasn’t Lucy’s book at all. Lucinda demanded star billing.

The other book in which the MC wrote the story was Streetwalker. Carrie’s story of prostitution, abuse, and sexual addiction absorbed me every bit as much as Lucinda had. I could not stop writing. I wrote at my “off” times. And I wrote the story quickly, just as I had written Lucinda, even though, to my knowledge, I don’t even know any prostitutes.

When characters take over the story (or a section of the story), I have learned to step aside and let them. And that’s great if that’s the manuscript I’m working on. But I’ll tell you, sometimes I’m working on a manuscript and another story starts batting at me for attention. It demands I notice it.

What I have learned to do is make a tickler file for that story--a special folder with pages inside the folder to put down plot points, scenes, character descriptions, etc. That’s the only way I can get them to shut up and let me write.

Writers are weird people, aren’t we? What do you do to stifle the stories?

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