Sunday, January 10, 2010

Letting My Fingers Do the Writing

Some of the most amazing things happen while we're writing. We might sit down to type a scene that we've worked out. An hour later, we're creating another scene that came from nowhere, had not been planned, and might even take our characters in a different direction than we expected.

I love those moments, but I don't know how they happen.

Some writers prefer to write from an outline. I've tried it, but my story never stays on track. My outline becomes a moving target, as dynamic as the novel manuscript.

My current novel-in-the-works first draft, which is almost finished, features a woman on the run. At the beginning of the story, she thinks she's merely leaving her husband and wants to make sure he can't follow her until she's ready to talk to him. Everything goes wrong, of course, and my character ends up running from bad guys, the police, and eventually, the FBI.

Yesterday, at a moment in the story when I thought she was trapped and would probably end the scene in handcuffs, my character stepped it up a notch and got away.

I don't know where the getaway idea came from. Although I know how the novel will end, I don't know where my character is going in the next scene.

Today I'll open the file and read yesterday's work. If it stands up under second-day scrutiny, I'll put my fingers on the keyboard and see what happens.

Do you experience writing that seems to come from your fingers instead of your mind? Is the idea fun, mysterious, or just creepy?


Jemi Fraser said...

Yes! I love those moments! The YA steampunk I wrote (mostly) during NaNo had many of those moments. Either because it's YA or because it's NaNo. :)

Actually I follow a similar pattern - I have an ending scene in mind, but have no idea how my characters will get me there!

Kay Theodoratus said...

I'm much like Jemi. I know where my characters are going. Even the ending words. But haven't a clue about how they are going to get there once the first third is drafted.

Jan Morrison said...

I know nothing - the last one I finished I didn't even know it was a mystery until I was a quarter of the way in! And yep, it is my fingers or it is the characters being very independent of me.

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

In one of my works I thought I knew who the murderer was---but I was wrong! LOL

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

My murderer usually changes several times in a book. I'm usually as surprised as the reader as to his identity!

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

The Old Silly said...

Yeah I DO know and experience what you mean. Not so much from my fingers, more like from some remote deep recess in my "id." Stuff just bubble up and gets keyed out and I'm like a witness to it rather than the conscious creator. Kinda spooky sometimes.

Marvin D Wilson

Carol Kilgore said...

Yes. And it's happened more now after my forced Holiday Hiatus. I love it!

Terry Odell said...

Oh, it's definitely the surprises that keep writing fun. The hardest story I ever had to write was the one where my CPs and I plotted the whole thing out. Thank goodness it was a short story! But once I knew how it all played out, getting there was a struggle. It became a chore, finding the right words, instead of the right events.

Karen Walker said...

Oh yeah, definitely experience this. Never thought it came from my fingers, though. It is a very strange feeling to read words I have no memory of having written. Where do they come from? Glad we're not alone in this experience.

Patricia Stoltey said...

It's reassuring to know these bizarre things happen to other writers as well. I've looked back at manuscripts in my files and thought, "I wrote that????"

As for the fingers thing, Karen, I know it just seems that way because I'm a very fast typist. I'm a little awed by the process that gets an idea from my unconscious (or subconscious) mind to my computer monitor without "thinking" the words as I go. These fingers are connected to the brain in ways I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

I love when my writing takes on a life of its own. Those are some of the best scenes.

I hope you find more intrigue in your writing today that takes your MC on an unexpected journey before ending up in your final scene!