Monday, April 6, 2009

The Voices Inside My Head

Re-reading Stephen King's On Writing, I came across a sentence that really rang true for me. The first draft, we write to tell ourselves the story. The second draft, we tell others the story.

Right now, I'm 55,000 words into a first draft of a novel. I have no idea how it's going to end! My protagonist has a choice to make. I know what I'd like her to do; I'm just not sure if it's right for her. I tried to plan the whole novel before I started writing, but I didn't feel like I knew her well enough to make the decision. I still don't, but I'm edging closer. I hope by the time I reach that point, she'll do it for me.

Sound schizo? It is, in a way. Characters tend to do things that you never suspected; that you didn't even know they wanted to do. Sometimes when I'm writing, I think: Where did that come from? I love that feeling, as if they're alive and exercising their control.

Ah, the voices inside my head. Am I telling myself the story, or are they telling it to me? (Hums the theme to the Twilight Zone...)


Nancy J. Parra said...

Fun post- and sooo true!!

Criss said...

They definitely tell us the story.

There is a book I read in grade school (in Spanish) called "The Partner/Associate." This guy couldn't get any business deals, until one day he told a client, "Well, let me talk it over with my partner." The client seemed much more interested in doing business with the guy since he had a "partner," so the guy starts to play this up, with all his business contacts.

Eventually he has to write checks as this "partner" and all sorts of other stuff, because everyone loves the "partner" so much. In the end, the partner is in complete control of the guy's life (and may or may not kill him in the end... my brother and I don't agree, and I haven't read it since 8th grade).

I love that book because it shows just how powerful and real our characters can become. Freaky, but true!

E. Alegra Clarke said...

I have found this to be true too, after going through several drafts and several evolutions, I have surrendered to the act of discovery that happens once we begin.