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I am not a highly organized writer. I don’t keep notebooks filled with character sketches. I don’t plot out books before I sit down to write. Most days I don’t entirely know where a story is going until it’s done and turned in, so when readers tell me they didn’t see a particular twist or turn coming at them, I simply smile and nod like I planned the unexpected. But the truth of the matter is my characters usually shock me more than they do my readers. Often times to the point of distraction.
I call this the magic of writing. Or the Twilight Zone phenomenon. While a lot of writers will tell you they don’t plot ahead of time, this is different. This is the subconscious mind knowing what needs to happen in the story before the conscious mind has figured it out. It’s writing a scene that seems to make no sense in the grand scheme of things, reading back through and thinking, “Hm. Interesting. But what does it have to do with the story?”
Usually a lot more than I realize.
Take Zander, for example, the hero in Entwined. When I wrote Marked, book one in the Eternal Guardians series, I had glimpses of Zander from a distance – he was the oldest Argonaut, the one rumored to be immortal, a descendent of Achilles and the fiercest fighter in the group – but I didn’t *know* him. There’s a scene in the end of Marked where Zander confronts the king, defies his order and is willing to walk away from the Argonauts on principle. At the time I wrote that scene, I had no idea why Zander would say the things he did or even what was so important about that conversation that made it imperative to the series. But later, when I sat down to work on Entwined, it all made perfect sense. A light bulb went on, links fell into place…everything Zander did and said in Marked had to happen so the next book could be written.
Twilight Zone phenomenon. Suddenly, my conscious mind had caught up, and everything became crystal clear.
This subconscious writing isn’t always fun, and it tends to sneak up on me when I least expect it, but after five published books, I’ve learned not to question the “magic” and just let it happen. The saying everything will work out is becoming my daily motto. Does this mean writing is always fun and easy and carefree? No. Most days it’s beyond frustrating because I don’t have a clue where things are going. I tug on my eyebrows, vent to my critique partner, stare at a blinking cursor all while I will my mind to give me just one tiny clue about what’s happening. But it never works. As Entwined proved to me on more than one occasion, sometimes the path we can’t see is the one we’re destined to travel.
Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Entwined this week. Book three in the series, Tempted, will release in February 2011, and it builds off events that take place in Entwined, so you won’t want to miss this book.
I hope you enjoy my Eternal Guardians, and happy reading!
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