Entering the Forest

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” Unknown   

This quote captures for me the essence of the art of writing. As a writer, you enter a world you think you know. You’ve outlined, you have an idea of where your story is going and you think you have a pretty good grasp of your characters.

It all starts off so well. As the author, you think you’re in control.  And for a control freak like me, that’s a good thing.

But as you progress, the scene seems to shift, subtly at first, so as not to rouse your suspicion. But you are meant to notice. So more and more discoveries are thrown your way until you finally pay attention. It’s at this point that the story takes off in ways you never anticipated.

This has happened to me in my last two novels and it would appear to be happening again in my latest project. I have no idea where these twists and turns come from, but in the end I find the soul of the story and sometimes I find out what I really wanted to say in the first place.

I’ve been working on a particular chapter for weeks. I knew my character was desperate to leave town and his university studies and thought I knew why. A woman was involved. I knew that. And in fact, it was about a woman, but not in any of the ways you might guess or I had anticipated.

Perhaps in my feverish need to finish this chapter, I planned one outcome that at best would have been too easy, too pat. And at worst: stereotypical.

Lucky for me my characters would have nothing to do with it.

Oh, my character is in a lot of trouble, but given who he is, there was no other outcome. This is his journey into the forest and he’s taken me with him. Who knows where we will end up? But it’ll be interesting.

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