SEASONS OF A BOOK by Warren Bull
When I write I find the climate of a book changes over the course of writing. I usually start with a character who knocks on my consciousness to say he or she has a story they want to share. Depending on factors I cannot identify, the character supplies me with an event or a quote or a scene. My task is to excavate around the bit showing to find out what the story is about.
With my current work in progress, I finished a rough draft of the complete book. After that, I was pleased when a secondary character explained why other characters were behaving in such ruthless and violent ways. Before her revelation, I knew how they acted, but not why they acted the way they did. Only now does the book make sense.
I know I’m not the only one who works in this fashion. Not long ago a writer friend exclaimed happily to me, “Now I finally know what the book is about.” She worked through at least three complete rewrites of her material before finding out.
Other characters have been stopping by in my head to point out errors such as when ten guards suddenly became twenty guards. One character had two different names. I needed an additional character for one scene who then supplied essential information in a later scene. A character I thought I would need was superfluous. I whisked that person away. Characters have been elaborating on events I wrote about and suggesting clarifications where needed. My third-grade math teacher always wanted me to “show your work.” I hear her voice often when I revise. Of course, I know why character A hates character B, but my readers don’t know until I tell them…explicitly.
I think the heavy digging is done. I uncovered the skeleton, then the characters started adding flesh and muscles to the bones. Tendons, lungs, and heart can’t be far ahead. Thanks, everybody. Yes, I will expand that conversation and remove this unnecessary detail.
I have to go now. My characters are calling.