But what happens when it happens? What goes on when the words start appearing on the page (paper or computer document)?
A lot, let me tell you. Here’s what happens with me personally when I write.
1. Characters will not always behave as I expect. They just won’t. It’s best to accept this now and let the little
dears do as they will. Usually they keep in character, and it makes the story
all the more engaging and realistic. But just don’t expect that you’ll know everything
there is to know. You won’t. I like to describe characters the way Gandalf
describes Hobbits: You can learn all there is to know about them in a short
amount of time, but then a long while later, they’ll still manage to surprise
you (paraphrasing here, but you get the idea).
For example, I have an assassin character. He’s one of the oldest characters I’ve created (oldest in regards to the day I made him), and the name he has is a name he gave himself. He has another name, a name he was given when he was born. I never knew it until two years ago. I’ve had him for at least five. It was a big day when I figured out his real name. But that’s what happens. Characters take on a life of their own. They’ll spring information on you, or they’ll behave in ways you don’t expect. I had a character literally talk his way out of trouble just a few days ago. I had no idea how to get him out, and he did the work himself. It just came.
So don’t underestimate them. Holding grudges is not entirely out of their reach.
2. The movie in my head often looks better than it does as words. But it’s what I try to achieve when I write. I have a really active imagination (hence part of why I’m a writer) and so the stories and scenes play out in my head like a movie. But sometimes trying to turn the visuals into words is hard. But it’s worth the effort when it works.
3. First drafts are bliss, second drafts and onward make me realize the bliss was a deceptive stinker. This has become especially apparent with my fantasy novel. I went to town on that. I had a lot of fun (which is good!). I knew it would need editing, but for now I was content with the beauty that was the novel.
Boy, did reality punch me in the face.
I already went over what happened with this novel, but I’m beginning to learn that first drafts only pretend to be perfect, or I’m pretty sure. Otherwise they’d never get done. The following drafts make you realize how innocently WRONG you were. But by then you’ve more or less committed, so you’re willing to see this deception of beauty become the real thing.
4. I fangirl over my own creations. Yes, I do. I squeal and gush. Usually by myself, as most of the people I know likely don’t know me enough to be used to that. But I flail and take pleasure in watching themes take root in stories, wriggle with excitement when plot pieces come together, and just in general become my own characters’ #1 fan. I take pride in my characters’ accomplishments and growth. I get excited when they become angst-ridden (it’s what we writers do. We take our darlings through the most horrible torments and sometimes only feel a little bit of regret), and I celebrate when they have their bright moments. In some ways, especially with the characters that’ve been around the most, I’ve grown up with them. I’ve watched them grow, and I learn from them. Even with the newer arrivals, I learn from some of them. And so I fangirl even more. ;) It just happens.
5. I find parts of myself in the characters (intended or not). As I learn about them, I see parts of my personality or habits in them. One character is quiet, like me, and another likes to keep his hands busy with whatever trinkets he can find (I like to fiddle with things when I’m sitting for long periods of time). It’s the best feeling to see part of me in the when I didn’t intend to put it there. One of the main characters in my novel, I think, has some of my habits and interests, and it just came naturally to him. I didn’t force it, it was just there. That makes writing them fun, knowing that they’re like me in some ways.
6. I communicate better with written words. In a story or otherwise, when there’s an important point I want to make, or a thought I have, I feel I can be clearer when I write my thoughts, instead of speaking. I don’t know why, but I seem to have a better grasp on the words I need when I write.
7. I story-hop. Do not test me here. I am very capable of jumping from one story to the next if I’m not in the mood for a particular project. I used to do this a lot when I was younger, and now I’ve reined it in a little, but I still have many projects going at once. And, even better, and I have dozens more bouncing around in my head like those lottery balls you see on TV. There’s a big backup. I have only so much time to write them (so I need more hands, I think). Like an octopus, or a millipede.
8. I get involved in the events. If scenes are intense, I’ll feel excited and invested in the adrenaline my characters are feeling. If a scene is sad, I’ll get emotional. I have almost cried. It usually requires the appropriate mood music to get the feel of it, but it’s amazing. I feel for the characters, and feel more comfortable with their mannerisms and personality. When they’re involved, I’m involved. Then the magic happens. B)
9. Worldbuilding happens all the time. It can happen while I write, or (usually) while I’m just thinking about the fantasy world and everything in it. It develops as much as the characters do. The novel I’m working on is made up of at least three countries, and it’s developing all the time. It’s almost as fun as developing characters. :3
10. Sometimes I know what I’m doing. Key word there: sometimes. Sometimes I have a plan. I know where the story is going. Other times I don’t, and I make things up as I go. Sometimes I will have no plan whatsoever and my characters actually bail themselves out (remember the MC who talked his way out of trouble? Like that). They don’t always follow orders, and sometimes that’s a good thing. If they’re being spontaneous, they’re likely breaking from my rules being themselves. They’re doing the job better than me. ;)
11. The characters, in a sense, become my friends. No it’s not creepy. It’s a writer thing. Since they come from my imagination, they’re part of me, even if I don’t see parts of me in them. I know them best. I know what they enjoy, what annoys them, who they love, what they want in life. I know their demons, and their light sides. Sometimes they might even reflect mine.
12. Some days, writing is 90% distracted by things and 10% writing. It happens, but the important thing is I get it done. I promise! Most of the time. o.o
13. When I write, I become an adventurer. I go on journeys and quests, I meet new people. I take part in the adventures my characters do. I travel to all parts of my imagination, where the worlds and characters lurk. I’m always learning as I write and explore, and there’s always new adventures waiting for me. And that’s one of the best things that happen when you’re a writer. There’s always someplace to go. B)
So that’s what happens when I write. :D It can be crazy, or orderly. Anything can happen, at any time. Sometimes I don’t know what happens, and that can make it exciting. The stories are adventures, but the writing in itself is an adventure too. God has given me this gift of writing, and with it He’s given me a grand adventure. :3 Even when I don’t know where He will have it take me, not always knowing where it’ll take me next is exciting too.
What about you? What happens when you start writing? :D