Eureka! I experienced an epiphany of sorts yesterday: I discovered, after writing 111 double-spaced pages (28, 515 words) in my novel, a potential pathway to a satisfying conclusion. That doesn’t mean that I will follow that pathway without variation to the end, but it does mean that a solution is within the realm of possibility—that I have created characters that can interact, solve problems and grow and a plot that can sustain their actions and motivations. Of course, I had some inkling of where I wanted to take this creative effort and with whom, but I never know for sure if I can reach that destination until I spill some of the contents of my subconscious onto the page.
I’ve read various people’s approaches to writing novels. Some work from an outline from the beginning. Others start with a character and some event and then write their way to some meaningful (or not) ending. My technique involves a little bit of both. I settle on one or more major characters, squint my eyes to see a destination in some distant future, then enjoy the organic nature of writing fiction until narrative roots take hold and push up a shoot pointing in the right direction.
I figure I’m somewhere close to half way done. I have lots of work to do, but the work is fun. I look forward to sharing an imagined future with characters I feel confident can lead me to some enlightening place. If the destination is as rewarding as I think, I can further sculpt the entire piece to a finished form.
Currently, in my novel the mind of Rudy Goldstein, a 21st century genius who survived death with the help of a sentient AI named Mnemosyne, merges with the mind of Twill, a shaman descendent a million years in the future. The merger is painful. Rudy says:
Sorry, kid. This is going to be hard on both of us. I am sharing your brain now—I’m not just a voice in your ear. You will know my thoughts and memories and I will know yours—although we both can’t be in charge all the time. We wouldn’t be able to function. I know this seems like magic, but it isn’t. I don’t believe in magic, at least not the supernatural kind, and—deep down—I sense that you are a skeptic, too. We’re both human—at least you are and I was. We’ll get through this. We may be in Master Morticue’s cage at the moment, but we have some surprises for Mr. worm guy.
And both these characters have more surprises for me, too, because novels represent an accommodation, sometimes painful, between a writer and the story he is capable of writing and the readers he hopes to reach. But writers must write and readers ache to hear new stories. I know we will get through this together, now that the end is firmly in sight.