I sometimes wonder, “If I wrote this scene tomorrow, or yesterday, what would be different?”
For example, in my current project I knew two characters would meet at certain intervals and their relationship would develop according to events occurring elsewhere. I didn’t have their conversations set out, but I knew the topics they’d discuss at each meeting. I had the scenes, but not the content.
Last week I was writing a discussion that took place late in the story, and one character suddenly revealed that things had to change. He insisted they’d have to meet elsewhere, and that decision would have an important and necessary impact on the rest of the story. From my previous planning I knew the impact had to happen, but I didn’t know how, and here the character just handed it to me. He made the suggestion in a way that flowed from my fingers to the keyboard, in his own voice, and I was actually surprised as I typed it.
(If you haven't, read this post on writers' insanity. Yes.)
This was a moment of inspiration within my writing time. Not while I walked down the street and spotted a beautiful flower, or while listening to a stranger’s conversation on a bus, but within the instant I was writing. But I was only writing because I had the time and made myself sit down. I could have done something else and saved my writing time for the next day. I might have been writing that same scene at a different point in my brain-life: more hungry or full, better caffeinated, tired, rested, even happy or dissatisfied. Someone could have interrupted me just before I got there. A DM might have come through Twitter on my mobile, or the phone might have rung. All sorts of things might have affected the way I wrote that scene. And would the character have spoken up then? Would he have said the same thing?
Impossible to know, but it makes me wonder.
Photo: Who loves you, baby, by Earl on flickr