Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cover to Cover

Do you write your novels cover to cover or jump around, creating scenes individually?
I always write cover to cover.  In fact I can’t imagine even attempting to write scenes individually.  The thought of trying to piece together scenes after the fact is mind boggling to me.
Pryor to writing I do play out scenes in my head, repeatedly, trying little changes here and there.  I’ve even gotten where I’ll take notes about specific scenes or things that I want to remember to incorporate.  I come up with a plotline and where I want the characters to go.  I’ll make notes about their past, things that drive them or have made them who they are; most of which is just for my mental image of them and won’t actually make it into the book.  I try to capture the essence of the story and the characters.
But when I sit down to write I begin with that opening scene and work my way through to the end.  There are so many times when I think I know exactly where the story is going and it’s only when I set about typing that I’m blindsided by one of my character’s doing something completely unexpected.  I love when that happens.  I love when I feel like I’m the vessel for the story, not the creator of it.  I’m glimpsing their world and their lives, attempting to capture it all in words as I go, but the story has a life of its own.
In the end I hardly feel that I own my characters.  I love that feeling. 
I don’t think I would have that feeling if I didn’t write the story ‘as it happened’, cover to cover.  I need to experience the whole thing as if I was an onlooker; the reader and not the writer.  When I discover the hidden details of the story I can feel better how it’s playing out.  I love to capture the characters as they grow throughout the story and show how their voices change as the story progresses.  I think that would be harder to do out of sequence.
I don’t know that I could write a book scene by scene, skipping around in time.  I think that the joy of discovery would be lost and I would never quite connect with my characters.  To be honest, I began writing because a first scene came to me that I couldn’t ignore.  It haunted me and I had to know what happened to her.  So I began to write.  For me, so that I could know the story.  No one else could tell me the story because it hadn’t been written.  So I began to write that story.
Somewhere in the process of writing her story I began to fall n love, not just with that book and those characters, but with the feeling of writing.  I realized that there were more stories in my head that hadn’t been written, and I wanted to know how they ended too.  The only problem now… very few stories really have an ending.  Books have endings, that’s true, but stories don’t.  Stories lead to more stories, characters lead to more characters, and the story goes on.  Stories are a lot like life that way.
Now I’m a bit addicted to writing.  It’s a rollercoaster of emotions that always leaves you on a high, because the possibilities are endless and the potential unmeasured.  So I’ll probably always write my books from cover to cover.  I want the rollercoaster.  I want the high.  At the end of the day, I write because I need to know the ending and there’s only one way to get there.  Published or unpublished I write for me.  Readers are just the big ‘ol gooey icing on the cake of this writer’s life.
So to all my readers out there, thank you for being my gooey icing!  This next book’s for you, cover to cover…

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