Sunday, August 29, 2010

Writing from limbo

On Friday, I wrote the final Pittsburgh chapter of the novel, which has two consecutive plots. I hadn't known it would be the last chapter. I was writing again from the imaginary seat of my pants and while I knew I was close to getting the protagonist out of town, it happened. It was good writing and a satisfying departure for her but now I'm a bit stymied.

Will Ellie go directly to New Mexico and encounter Al or will there be some adventures in-between? Will she hook up with Danny, an old boyfriend, in Houston? Will the killer be on her trail and will she have close calls? I don't know.

It's an opportunity for me to practice 16 solutions. What 16 things can happen to Ellie now that she's on the road?

I have a love-hate relationship with this kind of not knowing. I like ending a writing session with a clear idea of what to write next. It doesn't have to be the whole story splayed out in front of me but to know the next piece is comforting. But there's also some excitement in not knowing, in waiting for the muse to instruct me, the characters to speak to me.

I know that not everything is possible, that it isn't that wide open. I'm at 55,000 words and I've lots of loose ends in Story 2 to deal with so this part can't be more than 2-3 chapters. And those 55, 000 words and their events will circumscribe to some extent what's possible. But surely there's time for another big wrinkle in the adventure. I can't wait to find out.

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