Peering into the house
Just to give you a little insight into one writer's thought process while starting a new novel. I'm sure that some writers get everything plotted out and perfect before writing that first chapter. Every character is fully formed and ready to get up on stage and do their thing. For me it's so much different.
For me, I feel like I'm a reporter who can travel to different worlds and see what's going on. I'm not so much creating a world, but I'm discovering something that exists outside of myself, and I'm just given the ability to see it first. It's almost like there's a story – inside a house on a foggy hill. I see the outlines of the house first, then as I approach the house I can see more details, or something that I thought was the house was really the pool house and the main building comes into focus.
I imagine I kinda peer into windows – seeing characters or situations in an isolated, disconnected way. For instance – for my next novel, I was thinking about the concept of a character who has some mystical abilities. They realize that powerful magical entities have broken free from a Tarot style deck of cards. They must find some way to confront and get the entities back into their cards. The idea at first was like a film noir character doing this in a big city.
I then hit upon something that happens a lot for me. I see a genre and think “how can I twist or invert that trope?” For me the trope of some everyday guy getting sent into a fantasy world with superpowers — the Isekai might get inverted by having a fantasy character sent to the normal Earth and be “powerless”.
These ideas kinda fused in my mind — getting further clarification of the storyline. I then tried to imagine what my MC might be like. Initially, I had written a few chapters of a novel where a girl watches a door as part of a family tradition — supposedly “guarding” it in case anyone comes through. She scoffs at this until someone actually comes through! And I thought perhaps this was the MC for my story. She would somehow have the power to control these cards and the battle weary dude who comes through a gate would have to train her.
But as the characters began to speak to me ( figuratively, of course ) I realized that the MC was actually a 35 yr old divorcee named Sylvia who runs a bookstore. Taking the house analogy — I was able to peer in and see more clearly one of the characters. I just assumed the store was a book store – though it seems kinda tropy...
This is when serendipity comes in. Watching Twitter this morning I came across this tweet:
And I immediately realized that the store is not a bookstore after all but a pet store. I'm not sure how it will all work out, but I'm getting closer 😁
But the point of it is this. Sometimes a story will just come to you. I have other snippets of the story – like the “Big Confrontation” and some plot twists here and there. This is just how I think about writing. I'm definitely a “pantser” and this really works for me. You might be just staring out on your writing journey, or you've been doing this for a long time. I just want to let you know that stories can come in many ways. Sometimes you have it all worked out and you know the ending before you even start typing the first word. Other times you are discovering the story as you write it. And that's exciting! Give yourself the freedom to try both ways. You never know that directions your creativity will take you.
As I was writing this post, I realized a bit more about the storyline – in terms of how the MC might discover the item that is the “gateway” that let's the fantasy character pass through. She is a marine biologist ( okay?) who runs the aquarium pet store with her mom. She's recently divorced and has moved back to her parents to help with the store. She loves to go diving off the coast nearby and discovers a kind of “pandora's box” and naturally she opens it. So, now SHE's responsible for the Tarot-style entities escape. The fantasy character who will help her is probably one of the characters from the cards ( I don't know yet). But which one? And is this character REALLY have her best interests in mind? You'll have to read the story to find out!