At some point, all of us have seen memes on Facebook that show magic coming from an open book. But, it’s a little bit misleading if you ask me. Books are certainly magic, that’s definitely true, but it’s honestly just the result. The true magic comes from the writer—whose raw imagination developed the literary worlds we fall in love with.
Unlike the magic from Harry Potter, writing magic doesn’t always come with just a flick of one’s wand. Writing comes with a lot of patience, practice, and listening to one’s inner voice. (Sorry, I couldn’t come up with another “p” word.)
So, how do you know if the magic of writing is REALLY working? When the story starts writing itself.
Let me give you an example from my latest writing project. For the last several months I’ve been working on the third book of my trilogy. Now, to be honest, I dreaded this book because of its level of difficulty. Half of this book is written from the perspective of the villain of the trilogy, which also happens to be the creation of the main villains of my entire universe. Now, this group of creatures is not something I’ve ever written about before. They are sociopathic biomechanical creatures. Or, as I like to put it…compare it to Dr. Who’s Cybermen, but with free will. Sounds scary, I know. But thinking from the perspective of a machine was super difficult for me. I remember trying to watch/read different movies and books that contained characters who were sociopathic and no matter how much I tried to research, I still couldn’t grasp the concept.
So, what do I do? Just start writing and hope for the best. The start of the book was insanely slow and brutal. In my mind, I knew what this main character was supposed to act like, but I just couldn’t automatically figure him out. But, I kept writing though. It wasn’t until chapter four that the book changed on me a bit. I had this particular chapter figured out, or so I thought. I was super excited about it too, but the more I looked at my original outline, the more I noticed that it wasn’t working.
I fought so hard against changing my original plan, but the magic of storytelling was much stronger than my stubbornness. That’s what I had to learn this month, once I caved in to what the character wanted me to write, it went smoother. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before in some of the blog posts, but I feel that it’s often overlooked when writers talk about their writing process. For the majority of us, we don’t just pop out 50,000 words in a day. If we do, then generally it’s because we’ve thought about it for a VERY long time. As a writer, I think it’s important to remember, and I often forget, that it’s not my stories that I’m writing…it’s the characters. And if the story isn’t going the way it’s supposed to, well they’ll let you know 😉