Discovery and Illusion in Our Own Writing

Image Creative Commons - Flickr - vernhart

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons – Flickr – vernhart

I have always loved the idea that

our characters can lead us places we never expected a story to go.

If you’ve never experienced this in your writing

then I urge you to give yourself the freedom

to explore.

I’m a planner and yet this and other discoveries about my writing

happen all the time.

It could be as simple as learning that the handbag my main character

has in the last scene actually being present in the first scene…

and what’s inside that borrowed bag is even more interesting!


The guy she crushed on in training camp turns out

to have a thing for participating in Fight Clubs… and he’s a police officer!

I didn’t need to know these things when I made my

overriding plan for this book and

these nuances, these discoveries get me excited about

learning more about this world and these people.

A word of advice,

if you’ve never let yourself experience this form of wonder in your own writing

consider that you might just be over-planning

or placing too much trust in your foreknowledge of that world…

Surprises are exciting

and yes

at times a bit scary…

Give yourself a shock sometime – it makes for more dynamic writing πŸ™‚


What big or small discoveries have you made in your writing recently?

Categories: Notables

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. I’ve had this happen to me and it’s quite a magical experience πŸ™‚ Except of course when my villain informed me he wasn’t such a bad guy, and so I had to find a whole new motivation for him doing a very bad thing. Still, it made the book stronger in the end. I love the idea that our characters can tell us details we didn’t know – it makes me wonder where stories come from…


    • I know a writer who won’t outline at all because she says if she already knows how things are going to happen then there’s no point in writing it to “find out” – for anyone who is a planner I think knowing that smaller (and even big revelations like your villain!) happen to us too πŸ˜‰


      • Oh, that’s a great way to think about it! I must say I am a bit of a Pantser when I write – I have a beginning, an end and a few events in between, but it’s often a mystery to me how they knit together until I write it. Even so, I find it all works out in the end (so far) πŸ™‚


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