A Legal But Highly Addictive Drug

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing is when a character takes a story in an unexpected direction. I just had that happen in a big way. If you are not a writer, you might not know what I mean. It might seem that the actual writing process should have no surprises. You work out the basic plot, you flesh it out with some additional detail, then you sit down and type the story, filling in the prose like a painter painting by numbers. And for some writers, it might actually work like that.

But for many of us, not so much. Writing, at least really good writing, means getting yourself into the heads of the characters. Their actions, reactions, dialog, all become lived things, organically created from events as they unfold. And that means sometimes a meticulously planned plot point gets tossed out the window when it bumps up against how your character would plausibly react in a given situation.

When this happens, when your plot comes into conflict with your characters, the only choice (in my opinion) is to defer to the character and change the plot. The most carefully fashioned story will collapse if the characters are not believable, if the reader cannot identify with them. If your characters don’t want to follow your plot outline, they are sending you a message: You are writing the wrong story.

This just happened to me.

The Apocalypse Contract has reached a critical juncture in the plot. Multiple threads are coming together, secrets are being revealed, and we are about to dive into the exciting race to the conclusion. My main characters are well defined, and I know where the story is going.

Then, as I start a new chapter, I think: Maybe I should write this one from the perspective of this minor character. So I do.

Holy crap.

Suddenly this minor character has taken on a critical importance. Their inner monologue reveals capabilities and secrets nobody else suspects. It opens up potential for a whole new direction going forward, and the concept is TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME.

You know that feeling you get when you’re reading a book or watching a movie and it hits you with a plot twist that you weren’t expecting, but it feels totally right and punches you in the gut with a visceral feeling of satisfaction?

Yeah… writers get that too. And if anything, its far more intense when creating a story than reading it. It’s why we do it. Basically we are junkies that have found a legal drug. Honestly, if you are not writing because you are addicted to writing, you are probably doing it for the wrong reasons (there are easier ways to get a paycheck).

That’s all I got.

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