I used to think that before you wrote a book, you had to have the story all figured out ahead of time. I would write notes upon notes of story lines, and if I couldn’t figure it out perfectly, I would move onto another project assuming the idea wasn’t up to par. I can’t tell you how many projects I have wasting away in my computer that I’ve started but haven’t done anything with them. Part of my obsessive nature is the need to have everything figured out ahead of time, and that part of my personality wasn’t helping me in the writing process. That process may work for some writers, but it certainly wasn’t working for me.
Along with being a bit obsessive and organized, I’m also a feeler with a wild imagination, and I get my ideas in movie form while daydreaming. In needing to meticulously think out the plot (which is great for a script), I was ignoring a big part of the way I’m wired. So I moved onto a different tactic.
When I started this series I had a general idea of what it would be about. The characters needed to start out 16, their birthdays needed to be the same date (Dec 12th), and they all needed to receive new names that spoke to their new gifts/powers. I had no idea when I started writing why I chose Dec 12th, why none of the Chosen had come through the entrance in sixteen years, or anything else for that matter.
Normally, I would wait until I had it all figured out but this time, I decided to get to know my characters inside and out first. In doing so, I seriously fell in love with these characters. These characters became so real to me that I joked with my family that if I ever became senile, I would probably start asking for Ethan and Matilda. Instead of my mind going over plot and story lines, my head became filled with dialogue between characters. Why dialogue? Our speech reflects our personality. It’s so evident every time I hear my girls talk or tell a story, and that was a big way I got to know my characters. So when I would write a line I’d say, ‘No, that’s not Carter, Carter would say this.’
In getting to know my characters, they ended up writing the story for me. In doing so, this story tied together better than I could have done had I thought it through ahead of time. I never knew what I was going to write when my fingers hit the keyboard, and honestly sometimes I would panic because of it. But then I heard this still, small voice say, ‘Just put your hands on the keyboard and trust in what you’re creating.’ I’m so glad I listened. This process allowed me to engage in the wonder of the story unfolding as I wrote, as if I were reading it for the first time.