Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Did I Get Here?


So I’m writing along, going through a scene that I have all outlined. Well, not really outlined. I’m not that much of a plotter. I have a place I know I’m headed when suddenly… Pause for dramatic effect... How did I get here? I hadn’t planned on that character doing or saying that. What happened?

This happens to me a lot. I use Scrivener to write with. When I start a novel I have what I call events. These are plot points I plan on using and, if you are familiar with the program you know you can create index cards within a folder placing whatever you want on them. I use these as the documents for chapters or parts of chapters as I write. (It's a Srivener thing.) Normally, I have a number of these index cards with my ideas before I start the first draft. Sometimes two get joined into one chapter or one chapter split into two.

Enough about Scrivener. As my story unfolds it seems to veer off course. I’ll go to the index card view and see what I thought was going to happen and the writing doesn’t resemble my initial plan at all. What a delightful opportunity. Subplots form, new crises appear, characters do things I never thought they would do.

I think this is part of the wonder of creating whether it be writing or any other avenue of creativity. I used to be a professional quilter. I designed and made quilts and won a couple of prizes along the way. As I made art quilts or patchwork quilts things would go differently than I expected.

I have a quilt with four large, 24 inch, blocks comprising most of the quilt top. They were made from triangles and squares and laid out in a specific way to create a star. As I quilted it on my big machine a path made the quilting easy. That is until I got to the last square. The squares and triangles had been laid out and sewn together differently than the others. Was it wrong? Did I need to pick all the stitching out and resew the block. Heck no. It’s what I call a design decision. Did it turn out as I planned? Nope. Was it okay? Yeap.

The same is true for our writing. So it didn’t go where I thought it would go. That’s the way life is, so why shouldn’t our stories go where we hadn’t planned. Following where the story is taking us isn’t wrong. Let the outline go. It’s okay. It’s simply a design decision.

By the way. The quilt is called “One Of These Blocks Is Not Like The Others.” That’s for those who remember the song from Sesame Street.

Sophie Dawson writes Christian fiction. She lives with her husband and cat on a farm in western Illinois. Her Cottonwood Series novels have been Indie Book of the Day and Healing Love received first place in the genre in’s 2012 contest and a second in eLit 2012 contest. Healing Love and Giving Love are finalists for Readers' Favorites Contest 2013.
Sophie blogs one a week on her website as well as in addition to
She has recently released her fourth and fifth books, Leah’s Peace and Chasing Norie.
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