I’m not sure how the creative process works for other people. I mean, I’ve read about other writers, painters, etc and how their process works, (and always find it fascinating) but it’s one thing to read about something and quite another to actually understand how that works. Heck, I am not sure how my own works if I’m asked to put it down in writing. Creativity and inspiration are strange beasts, they seem rather like quixotic friends who love you one minute and aren’t speaking to you the next. On the days during which they aren’t communing with you, you do the grunt work—editing, rewriting, constructing the fiddly bits which connect one paragraph to the next. My mode of writing might best be described as flibbertigibbet-y and so I end up doing a lot of work with those fiddly bits.
I don’t outline, and other than the history of the various places in which my books are set I don’t feel that I need an outline. I let the characters tell the story to me as they like, and in their own time—Mr. Kirkpatrick often takes great advantage of this. Still, especially this late in the game, I usually have a fair idea of where things are headed. As the series winds down, I have to draw all the threads together and tie them off, if not neatly, then at least in a fashion which will make the readers happy, or this being a tale about Ireland, happy-ish. So, I thought I had a fairly good idea of where the current installment is headed, the front end is written after all, and I feel no need to change that. I had a prologue mostly written, and thought I understood what it was trying to tell me, and where that would ultimately take the series, and how the entire story would bow out, so to speak. Then last week I had one of those odd days, where I was working on something else entirely (‘Bare Knuckle’) for those of you who follow what I’m up to at the moment, and I had a sentence which kept insisting itself, though it clearly did not belong in what I was working on. So I switched screens and wrote the sentence down, more to get it out of my head than anything and then I wrote another sentence and another, and then several paragraphs. I realized once I was done that I was looking at a prologue, one that was insisting itself. This doesn’t happen all that often but when it happens it’s often a bit troublesome because it usually means the characters are throwing me a huge curveball. The last chapter of ‘Shadows’ for instance which insisted itself from about six months into the writing of that book, until I wrote it down and it completely changed the course of the rest of the series. This new prologue threatens to do exactly that—I’m not entirely sure who is talking to me through the prologue, it’s either Jamie or Casey, but I don’t quite know which one yet. Their voices are very different but as this is in the form of a letter, it’s a little harder to tell which one is speaking. Normally, it’s very clear which POV I’m in, they think and feel differently, though they clearly have some commonalities. Sometimes it’s obvious because of their surroundings, but in this case that’s not giving me a clue at all, it’s not a house with which I’m familiar- the house where the person is sitting writing said letter.
Writing each of them is always very different, Casey presents easily, solid, very ‘there’ and talking. Jamie is much more fluid and harder to capture on paper, so normally that would also be a tell. Alas, when Jamie writes letters or journal entries, he does so very easily, so the letter writer could well be him. If the prologue writer is Casey, then the series ends a little differently than I thought, but it’s not earth shattering, if it’s Jamie, it changes pretty much everything I thought I knew about how this series ends. And it might require another book in the series to let it play out. This will make my husband smug, of course, because he’s always believed there are six books in this series not five. I’ll just have to wait and see what they feed out to me over this next while, and what it means for their lives, and the telling of said lives. I’m not even sure I’m okay with what the letter writer seems to be telling me, but I do believe in telling the tale they want to tell, not the one I might prefer, because it just comes down to the truth of the tale and the integrity within the story because of it.
Ultimately, though this is, in part, what I love about writing, it’s always about the journey rather than the destination, and the characters keep it endlessly interesting.