About three months ago, I took all my notes for my most recent science fiction book, RAGE, and started turning it into a true novel. At that time, names like Jonas Vega, Eli MacKenzie, and Victoria Donovan were just names. They were the ones that survived the culling, when I trashed all the rest of the possible names that, to me, sounded like absolute rubbish.
Despite spending quite a bit of time on outlines and character development before working on the novel, the characters were nothing more than names on a list. There was a picture of their faces in my mind, but they had yet to speak their first word on the page.
Then I started writing.
How is it that characters that had never lived until a few months ago suddenly have their own voices? How is it that characters that were just names on a list three months ago are suddenly telling me how to write their next dialogue?
I recently finished RAGE and finally did a review of the book, cover to cover. I was amazed how many times I stopped reading, furrowed my brow, rubbed my chin with concern, and said to myself, “He’d never say that!”
I firmly believe that books evolve, rather than “get written” or “are created”. I do an outline for every book I write, but so rarely do they take the same path as I intend. It’s not because I’m fickle (though I am), it’s because the characters take me places I would never have guessed even months before. As they evolved in the story, they told me what should come next. I had to cast aside my preconceived notions about the characters and listen to what they had to say.
It’s amazing how much insight they had into themselves!
I’m very glad that RAGE is done and I hope my beta reader and editor appreciate the work. I’m also glad I managed to shut up and listen to my characters. I often think they’re way smarter than I am.
And yes, I managed to turn this blog about writing a book into an argument about “evolution” vs. “creationism”.
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