On Saturday, April 25th, I started writing a book. It's going well, almost frighteningly so. There's a small voice in the back of my head that says writing shouldn't be this easy - that if the past is any indication, because the book is going so well now, I'll hate it when it's done.
Fortunately, there's a louder voice in my head that knows the past doesn't guarantee the future and can make the other voice shut up.
I do realize that by talking about this book now, I'm going against what I said last year about keeping a book secret while I'm working on it. But I figure that as long as I don't talk about the actual plot, I won't run into the issues detailed in that blog entry. For now, all I'll say about the plot is that it involves airships and blackmail. ^_^ And either way, it's not the plot that has me scratching my head these days.
My friend Rena has a saying: "Foreshadowing: look for it in quality literature." Part of why I plot (aside from the fact that I write absolute crap stories when I don't) is to know what happens so I can foreshadow what's to come. What's been weird about this book is that the characters are foreshadowing things long before I planned for them to do so.
I've had beta readers point out that I needed to bring up a plot point or suggest a plot twist long before I actually did. That's nothing new. What's new is when one of the main characters feels the desire to mention something that's a crucial part of the second-to-third-act transition in the book's second chapter, all so that plot point has time to develop in the background and doesn't seem like it came out of nowhere.
If anyone later asks, yes, I will say I meant to do that.
I've seen other writers talk about how they know they're doing it right when the characters take on a life of their own, and seem to write their own dialogue and determine their own actions independent of what the author originally planned. That's happened to me more than once. I'm used to it - hell, I plan for it. I leave enough breathing room in my plots for things to change without breaking the story. But it's quite strange to feel like my characters are telling me that they know how the story should go better than I do.
Then again, they're probably right. And now that I think on it, since I do my best not to think too much when I'm writing and just write, this is happening in more ways than just foreshadowing.
There are a lot of things happening in this book that I didn't plan for. Most of them are in character reactions as events transpire; I don't always write reactions into my plots, as I figure that's something that will come up in the actual writing. And that's happening a ton in this book. It's been interesting to discover new aspects of characters I've had in my head since 2002, and at the same time, I feel like I'm just watching things transpire and scrambling to write them down quickly enough. It feels like the sort of thing every writer might hope for, but it's very weird to have it actually happen.
I have only vague plans for what will happen after this book, but some of the things that have come up feel like they're hinting at that - foreshadowing for things I don't even know yet. But I'm trusting my characters, as they seem to know better than me.
Next week: Word Count Blues.
As a side note, I want to thank everyone for the amazing comments on last week's entry. ^_^ I was a little nervous about that one, as it seemed a bit melodramatic and too much like my typical "you can do it" IWSG content, but I'm glad y'all liked it so much. Thank you.