by Janis Patterson
There are few things more wonderful than starting a new book. A whole new world full of promise and excitement beckons, along with a new population of characters who are eagerly anticipating your bringing them to life and giving them directions to a satisfying resolution.
There are few things more terrifying than starting a new book. An unfamiliar and possible dangerous world lies in wait, along with a possibly hostile population of characters who will block and frustrate you at every turn and go their own way no matter what you have planned.
The truly frightening thing is that both statements are absolutely true. Like the Red Queen, it really is possible to believe two absolutely impossible things at the same time.
One of my favorite exercises in masochism is to compare the book that actually got written with the book that was so carefully planned. There are usually, however, a few points of congruency; most of the time, though, they’re two totally different books.
I’ve written at length about how my characters simply will not behave. They walk in, take over and pretty much run things the way they see fit, and perhaps that is rightly so. This is their life I’ve created, and they should have some say in how it works out. On the other hand, so should I, as I am the one who has made all this up, but that doesn’t seem to count. It’s odd, but I have come to believe that perhaps my characters are better writers than I…
Now if I could only find out a way for them to create their own stories, worry with foreshadowing and motivation and plausibility and get the whole thing down in a readable form… Then perhaps while they’re doing that I could go take care of housework and laundry and all else that needs to be done!
I’m not holding my breath, though. In the meantime, I have a new book to begin, a new land to create/explore and a new population to deal with. Maybe this time I will actually get the upper hand. But – like I said, I’m not holding my breath.