Ok, first of all I need to say I re-wrote the “my readers” part at least a few times because it still seems kind of surreal to have people reading my stuff. I’ve been writing for so long and kept it to myself or post it online under pen names, that this feels weird.
I mean, when I write how can I know someone else sees things the way I see them? Do they laugh at what I laugh and do they feel the way I do? And if they don’t, can I take it?
But you know what? I realized that putting my work out there for people to see helps bringing these fears down. I am people. And amazingly so, people are alike from many points of view and their uniqueness can only add to my talent and make it better.
I was surprised at their enthusiasm and especially, with how attached they got to a certain character – and because of a little nothing I would have never thought it would attract their attention. Example: Cedric Gaelle from The Walls won the heart of my number one fan (she knows who that is!) because of my description of his hands! Now, how does that happen?
One other time, I had a girl so committed to Death is just another beginning that she no longer cared about waiting for the next chapter. She would just speculate what would happen next and what the reaction of the other characters would be. She was writing the story for me with her impatience and comments
Other people were already envisioning a scenario of what some characters should do in order to define their personality better and by listening to them I realized I’m doing a good job because I had already done that later in the story (they hadn’t finished reading the book).
Some readers went into such details as to ask about geography and names. Some were so much into the description of a certain army that they figured a battle scene couldn’t possibly happen because some parties were way too peaceful to fight and so on and so forth. Or they made fun of me knowing of my attachement over some of the characters hehe
I got hints on syntax, vocabulary, characters, locations, attitudes and angles regarding situations that I could never really say I ran out of inspiration.
When I first started writing, I did not know how to do it. I just started writing with no plan whatsoever and everything happened as I progressed. My characters would be influenced by how my day went. And I recall that one evening I was supposed to write a chapter about Achilles finally doing something good to appease his relationship with Alexia. And guess what? I had such a bad day at work that by the time I came home and started writing my mood was definitely not peaceful so he ended up rapping her in the story. Hahaha well that messed up shit for me! I had to work on a few more chapters to get back to the point where he could mend stuff with her. Wonder why I didn’t delete the chapter and waited for my mood to improve and stick to the plan? Well, ‘cause mood changes are also part of me. And it surely surprised my readers. One of them said: “I didn’t expect that!” Yeah. Me neither. Hahaha. And I’m writing the damn thing.
Well that was Death. After taking a few screenwriting classes, I realized I need a plan to work with so I stop beating around the bush and exhaust myself with the “unexpected”, especially with how little time I have to write. So for The Walls I made a summary of the story and a list of characters (the names of which I think I changed at least twice hehe). The summary all in all, namely 20 chapters, is no longer than 6 pages. The story so far (18 chapters) is 283 pages long. Hilarious. And this happens because the summary of a chapter looks something like this:
Timeline – Jairo gets killed a week before the banquette. A few days after the banquette (10 days from Jairo’s murder) the nobles come to talk to Leora. The next day (day 11) she leaves with Kane to Uyack. It takes them about 7 days to get there so by the time Leora finds out about Jairo it would have been 20 days (three weeks).
A week before the banquette
The evening before the two noblemen were discussing how to get rid of Jairo as he was the most influential over Leora and they knew they couldn’t convince him to make Leora kill Damor in his sleep so they be free. So they will try to convince her themselves.
The evening of the banquette
Meanwhile at Kane’s court Alchantar arrives and they have a feast and Alchantar catches Leora alone and is very brutal and mean to her, making passes on her, stirred by her courage and beauty. Damor shows up and knocks him unconscious and forbids him to ever enter his kingdom again, takes Leora to their room and tries to make love to her, but she is already scared and in tears from Alchantar and somehow he can’t hurt her on top of that. They have a small discussion and somehow she starts changing her opinion of him. He leaves and then she stays alone wondering what happened to Jairo and why he was late! Fade away thoughts into the night to approach next scene.
A week before the banquette
Fade in from the night through the window to Jairo who is in his bed, very sick when two men step inside his room and smother him with a pillow. Outside one of the two noblemen pays them a bag of coins and they disappear in the night. Across the street the other noble nods as to accept the deed.
FROM THE DARK – a man holding to his belly watches everything silently – it is Kanza who has meanwhile escaped from prison as Alchantar was getting ready to attack the border villages of the Dhanawars.
So this is Chapter 16. In reality it turned out to be 20 pages long. This is how I do it and sticking to a story line helps a lot. I deviate anyway every now and then because as I go, something else pops out in my mind, but at least I don’t stray too much. And sometimes, it is the readers’ reaction to what my characters do that can turn the story around.
And what I find really funny is that after I write and read through my stuff I always laugh at my own jokes and like my own lines and think, God I’m such a retard! And when I kill one of my characters (I am God, yes! The God of my characters!) I feel it in the marrow of my bones and when they are thrilled, I shift in my chair as I write, grinning like an idiot. And when they are scared and fearful I narrow my lips and almost hold my breath as I type, sharing their angst. And when they fight… well, that’s a sight to remember! I first get off my chair and swing around the room, bending and spinning and throwing my imaginary sword at the enemy to see whether what I have in mind is actually doable and my description of a battle sequence is not going to look like flying Chinese in a cheap movie.
So writing is fun and it’s very much rewarding when people reading my stories have fun as well. I learn from them, especially when they don’t agree with me or when they don’t understand something, because that means I’ve done something wrong. Very few people out there do not possesses the imagination to build a world to come out of the pages of a book. As a writer, I try to always give a hint about places, character looks and insights, but I try to leave enough room for people to create their own perception of the plot. Of course, every now and then, I describe too much of something, like the inner turmoil of a character, but I discovered people get caught in that as well and they live it together with me because yes, sometimes it’s easier if I just build that tension for them so the only thing they have to do is get lost in it.
I just write the way I feel (that’s going to cost me when we discuss sex scenes! Hahaha). But one must remember: it takes passion to kill and passion to love hehe. Anyway, I encourage all of you to write. Even people who say they cannot write come up with good stories written in a very unique manner. There is no right way to write and you’d be amazed to see how smoothly you can do it. So try it. Write stories for children – those of you who have kids I am sure benefit from inexhaustible daily doses of resources and inspiration. So don’t let it go to waste! Even if it’s like the memoires of your kids’ childhood. Those who dream of changing the ending to a sad story they once read, do it. Probably a lot of people have thought of doing the same and never dared and they will high five you for it (like Quentin Tarantino did with Inglorious Bastards and killed Hitler in a cinema long before causing all the damage he put the world through. Man, I wished so badly someone did that, at least in fiction if in reality we had missed that chance! For that reason alone – and Brad Pitt of course haha – I love Tarantino’s approaches to reality).
So, what else is there to say. Yes.
A few of their comments on Death is just another beginning
And on The Walls...