The Magic of Creating

A member of our critique group and I were discussing how we begin to write a story, be it

A character

A character

novel or short story. I said I begin with a character, and her next question set me to thinking a lot about how I really create that character. Unlike those who plan everything, I imagine a character who will be strong enough to stand up to all that will happen to her. And I don’t yet know what that might be.

Early on in my writing career, I daydreamed my stories for a long while before I began to write, and I knew very little about putting a book together. But I knew my strength lay in long stories. There’s a magic that occurs, at least with my writing. And no amount of preplanning is done. For if I do that the magic of creating disappears. I have lost it.

So what I had to tell this member of our group was, I simply place this woman in a situation, and turn her loose. I learn about her as she begins to live this tale. What her fears are, what her faults and weaknesses are, and best of all what her strengths are. No charts or notes for

magic castle

magic castle

me. That comes much later, and then only so I’ll remember what has happened. I jot down things like the name of a man she meets, what kind of house she lives in. After all, once I realize who she is, then I can know where she will live and how she will react to certain situations.

Surprises for both her and me lurk around every corner. Oh, I know, sometimes something happens that I can’t extricate her from, and I have to back up and rearrange things a bit. Often I’ll think, now why did this happen in this way? Then as the story progresses, it becomes clear.

I believe that this is because as a writer, I have things filed away in my brain, and they come out as needed, without forethought on my part. If my character is going to need something later in the story, I believe I sense it and give it to her.

Horsedrawn dray

Horsedrawn dray

This style of writing can produce some difficulties. Usually when I finish the first draft, later events have made it necessary to change earlier events. In the draft for my second in the Victorian series, as I wrote, the hero surprised me by getting drunk and walking in front of a dray. It ran over both his legs and mangled them. I had no idea this was going to happen, but it took the story in a new direction. Later I realized that I didn’t want him permanently crippled, and in that day and age, this type of injury might have caused such a thing, so I fixed it so that only one leg was run over with no long term damage.

When something like this occurs in my plot, I don’t go back and do the repairs then, I keep focused on finishing the book. In an immediate second draft, with my notes next to the computer, I make minor repairs where needed to fit the eventual outcome of the book. It’s the way I like to write because it’s more fun. It’s surprising. It’s magic.

A dream?

A dream?

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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8 Responses to The Magic of Creating

  1. Hi Velda,
    This was an eye-opening peek into your writing process. I just read (& reviewed) WILDA’S OUTLAW and now am trying to think back to where you may have done such repairs. Woe is me, it doesn’t show!

  2. Wait till you read Rowena’s Captain (Hellion) you’ll be able to pick out how I had to repair it. I’m still working on it, but every one of my books are written this way. I hope the repairs are seamless. Thanks for the review. I’m going to check it out now.

  3. I blogged on this topic today too Velda! I enjoyed getting an inside look at how your stories come about.

  4. Pingback: The wellspring of ideas from Wild Ozark imagery 11847 Wild Ozark

  5. sallyjadlow says:

    You are a wonderful magician, my dear!

  6. Thanks Sally. I appreciate your support.

  7. Eunice Boeve says:

    Hi Velda, I know exactly what you are saying. That’s how I do it too, start with a time, place and character and see where he or she leads me. One author, forgot who, said she set (name of character) down on paper “and she got up and walked away, so I followed.” Some readers question why such and such happened and I say because it did. For instance someone dies. You could change it, the reader says. And I say, no I can’t. That’s what happened. A lot of times I’m surprised and saddened too.

    • My hero got drunk, staggered under a dray wagon and broke his leg. I had no idea this was going to happen, but there I was stuck with it, which took me in an all new direction. For one thing, it broke him of drinking, which I thought fortuitous. Isn’t it fun? Thanks for reading and commenting on my blogs.

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