I’m making progress – about a sixth of the way through the book, and so far, I like my characters. More importantly, perhaps, they’re doing as they’re told, and following my plot.
I admit, I’m a plotter, rather than a pantser. Starting to seriously write a book was scary enough, without not being sure where the story would end up. Having said that, I do wonder sometimes whether having a tightly-plotted story becomes a little like ‘writing by numbers’. I was a bit distressed to read that Stephen King in On Writing calls plotting 'the good writer's last resort and the dullard's first choice'. Really?
I console myself by thinking of some of the master saga-writers. I can’t imagine Robertson Davies, or the historical fiction writer Dorothy Dunnett, or even JK Rowling, just sitting down with a bunch of post it notes or just an idea. Their plots are like rich tapestries, with characters, motifs and story lines emerging briefly like brightly-coloured skeins of colour before disappearing into the weave again.
I’ve read many blogs from authors which talk of characters setting off on their own, and saying that this is a cause for celebration as it demonstrates that your characters ‘live’.
My characters don’t appear to be in that place yet, as they’re currently very well behaved. They seem real enough to me, but perhaps a bit more writing will breathe enough life into them for them to start arguing with me. But watch this space.
Call me a dullard, but I like knowing the direction of my novel - it gives me a sense of completion, of progress as I work through it. Once I'm comfortable, I hope to be able to enjoy the odd diversion, too.