Once upon a time, a young girl sat at her desk and typed up the first two chapters of a new story that she had big, big dreams about, but then the evil villain, Brain, decided to ruin the whole thing by thinking out the entire plot before she even had the chance to write. And so the girl gave up, because she knew what happened and she wasn’t interested in writing it down. The end.
That (above) is a story I know all too well. That girl, believe it or not, was me. I know, shocking. But yes, it’s true. That girl t’was I.
When I first started writing novels, not just like articles or short stories or really small novellas, but actual freaking novels, I was obsessed with that “brand new idea” feeling, and would write up a poop ton of first chapters and seconds and thirds, and when the full book took shape in my head, I moved on to the next great idea, the newest, most shiniest idea that my brain could create. The reason? I wasn’t writing because I wanted to share my work. I was writing because the stories I wanted to read weren’t out there. I took that quote by that-guy/girl-that-I’ll-look-up-and-then-post-the-quote-picture-right-next-to-this-paragraph-later very literally (side note: you tired of hyphens yet?). So once I knew how the books ended, the result was pretty obvious: I no longer wanted to read them — or in this case, write.
It took me a long time to realize that that was the root cause of why I only finished eleven out of thirty-eight novels (yes, I really did count. Do not judge me, that’s not nice).
So yes, my current novel, Savage, has an ending that I know. In fact, I already wrote it out in very detailed, very not left-aligned-at-all notes that I have safely tucked away in my little black notebook. And yes, my idea notebook is literally a little black notebook. Deal with it. But that’s not the point. The point is that the fact that I know the ending doesn’t matter to me anymore. I may have a neatly drawn out map of where I’m going and small events that should happen in order to make things make sense later, but none of that actually matters. And do you want to know why? I’ll tell you why.
Because my characters always have and always will be little bitches.
My characters don’t care about my little black notebook. They see a stop sign scribbled on the side of a page and they scream like banshees, “Fifty points!” and then run it over like they grew up on the streets of GTA. If they were real, living human beings, they’d be those people you read about on the internet who sincerely believe that laws are just “suggestions”. Those kind of people. The outrageously reckless and yet endearing sort that just genuinely do not give a rat’s ass.
So, yeah, I know what I think should happen in this book, but I don’t know what my characters think as odd as that may sound. And that’s why I keep writing. Not because I want to lord my ideas over my thought-babies, but because I enjoy the experience more than the destination. Except Caprice. Caprice was my worst character in terms of doing even remotely what I asked her to do. If Caprice were a person, she’d be a toe. Not even a whole person, just a toe. I don’t like Caprice. She brought me stress and sadness and a whole lot of reworking of a plot that I didn’t even have fully fleshed out, but that she was poking many, many holes in.
God damn Caprice.
Anywhoville, if you’re a writer, I hope you don’t sweat it too much about the whole “knowing the destination” thing or the whole “my characters are literal douche bags” thing, just enjoy the ride as much as you can and get that story out of you.
Ciao for Now,