Monday, March 26, 2012
Who's in Charge Here?
I find my stories taking on a life of their own at times. I think I’m going one way with the plot and it turns a corner without asking me. The same goes for characters. You think you have this guy/gal all figured out, and then they do something you never thought they would. I was really stumped by the heroine in the present story I’m writing. She started out being somewhat of a pushover, a pleaser, and the next thing I know she’s putting the hero in his place. Then she ends up with another guy all together. Could have fooled me, and she did.
I came across an article in the Smithsonian magazine interviewing Judy Blume. She started out by saying that writing is incredibly hard for her. What writer can’t appreciate that, and love the honesty of her sharing it. She also claimed that she’s not the world’s best mother. But everyone expects her to be due to the type of books she writes, mainly about coming-of-age issues. Blume said there’s so much she doesn’t know when she starts writing a book, and that’s the best part of writing for her. The surprises along the way. When writing her most popular book, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, she thought she was writing about organized religion, yet the book became famous for dealing with puberty. People glossed over the personal relationship Margaret has with God.
It makes me wonder how much control we really have as authors. I write all over the place, which is obvious by my pushy heroine bossing me around. But between the independent characters, the wayward plots, and readers taking away something different than what you meant for them to, I get a little confused. This was my idea to start with, right?
I try to cover three elements in each of my books: A faith element, a takeaway that hasn’t been overused, and a relevant topic to motivate discussion. But frequently, by the time the story is finished I look back and they have all changed into something different. Like my Amish hero leaving the community to experience Rumspringa (running around) in the city, became second to the heroine going, but she went for a completely different reason, to evangelize. I don’t know where she came up with the idea, but I liked it.
Question: Do your stories surprise you?