On Writing: The Not-Knowing

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As we find ourselves in the spookiest time of the year, I, like many of you, probably, have been reading a lot of scary stories. My favorite kind are the ones that make me feel off-balance the whole way through, before… BAM! …revealing the sinister truth at the very end. The not knowing is what terrifies me. What is this presence in the house? Who is stalking her? Where did everyone go?

Likewise, when I’m writing, the not knowing is the best part! When we sit down with our plots and characters, we usually have at least a small inkling of an idea of where we want the writing to go. But how often does the story come alive, grab the steering wheel and veer into another direction? Our sweet little schoolteacher stops seeing the point in using euphemisms. Our honeymooning couple both reveal themselves to be serial killers who kill on their wedding night. The retired engineer kayaking solo down the Amazon in your man-against-nature epic is beset by a troupe of laser-gun-toting space monkeys who take him prisoner and force him to build a rocket so they can fly back to their home planet because suddenly that is the only story line that makes sense.

One day, your characters won’t need you to dictate their lives anymore. Your job will merely be to sit down, pop open your laptop, and let them manipulate your fingers however they choose as they tell their own story. You have no idea what you’re doing or where you’re going, but it’s quite the enjoyable ride, isn’t it?

Tell me if you’re a pantser, a plotter, or a plantser at Kate@KateLanders.com.