Each author has his or her own way of writing a book. Some have to plan out every scene, every piece of the plot, and every character before getting started. They have to know exactly what is going to happen and write the story according to what they have planned. Some just sit down and start writing with no planning, no forethought, no clue what is going to happen. Others plan out just a small section at a time, with only a vague idea of what is going to take place with their characters and story.
I've heard some authors say that the characters will take over and all you have to do is write what they tell you. What a concept! I thought maybe they had a screw loose or something, but if it worked for them, I figured it was okay. I tried to do that, but my characters never would speak to me. Or maybe I wasn't listening close enough. All I did was write what I thought the characters would do. I wrote how I thought they would act according to what I had planned for my story or my book. Maybe that is the reason I could never finish what I started. My desire to be in control of what was going to happen drowned out their voices.
Since starting to write Whisper, I have learned so much about writing. The way I'm doing it probably won't work for everyone. It didn't work for me until just recently.
I had a basic idea for a book. The idea was great, but I didn't see how on earth I could make an entire book out of it. The idea? A young girl is on the verge of suicide, but is stopped by a spider. This talking spider promises her glorious things, things that will make her life so much easier, things that will give her power. Sammi can't resist. She was going to kill herself anyway, so what does it matter? But she finds that nothing comes without a price.
Where did I get such a wild idea? It came from personal experience and the 'what if' question. Last October I had a spider crawl in my ear and take up residence for almost an entire day. It was a horrible experience, one I would rather not have had, but I wasn't going to let it go to waste. No, this spider did not talk to me. I came close enough to losing my sanity that day without having that little beast speak to me.
The prologue, “In the Beginning”, and chapter 1 weren't hard to write. It was written in one evening. Then I was lost and had no clue where to go, but I knew there could be so much more to it. I fretted for days. Several possibilities ran through my head, but none of them worked out. Finally, I just sat down at my laptop and wrote. Chapter 2 was a background chapter, so I wrote what I thought was good. I was proud of myself and sent it to my editor. Yes, this editor has an editor. I desperately need his input. He promptly sent it back and told me I had it all wrong. Was I frustrated? Yeah, I was. He was right, though. I was trying to change Renny's personality and I couldn't do that. So I sat down and wrote it again.
A funny thing happened while I was typing – Renny (the spider) and Sammi (the girl) began speaking to me. They told me what was going on, they told me what needed to happen and why it needed to happen. Never before had that happened and it kind of scared me, but I wrote what I was told and sent it back to my editor. He loved it. And I already knew what was going to happen in the next chapter, at least I thought I did. I was wrong. The characters had something totally different planned.
I have learned that even when you think you know it all, when you think you know exactly how your next chapter will be written, when you think you know exactly what your characters are going to do and why they are going to do it, you probably don't know nearly as much as you think.
I have learned that it doesn't do any good to argue with your characters or try and make them behave like you want. Believe it or not, they do have minds of their own and they will not let you go on until they get their way. So just make it easy on yourself and write what they tell you.
For me, writing a book is like going on a wild ride, one where you only learn what is going to happen when you get to that place in your journey. And every writer needs a great editor to keep him or her on track, one who will make sure your writing doesn't give too much away or not let enough be known.
I have learned to lightly plan out what is going to happen in the next chapter, and do any needed research for it. I write all of this down in my notebook. Then I sleep on it and wait until the next day to start writing. I start typing out what I have planned, then tend to find myself deviating from the intended route. I find the characters leading me to places I hadn't intended to go. If you don't understand why you wrote out a certain part of dialogue or a certain event, just be patient. The characters will reveal why when you need to know.
If you would like to see my book in progress, feel free to do so. Right now you can find it at www.abookloverslibrary.com/whisper.html . If you have arachnophobia, you might not want to read it. If you do read it, please feel free to let me know what you think. I love getting feedback on my work.