Life has begun (touch wood) to settle. Crises have subsided. Daily dramas have diminished. The weather has turned cold and windy and wet, calming nerves and dampening temperaments.
Now it’s time to get back to work. The Wolf Tree is once more underway.
I’ve had a few days off this week, and First Reader and I have taken long walks in the blustery drear, kicking around ideas like the autumn leaves at our feet. I’ve worked on the timelines for the intertwined stories, settled on names for the major characters, and started to flesh out their personal histories.
Frankly, I don’t see how anyone could write a story like this without outlining. Two interleaved tales separated by 150 years? How can you do that without a framework, without knowing where the stories are going to go?
One thing that was bothering me was the final wrap-up. I wanted to make sure it was going to be satisfying to the reader, that it didn’t read the wrong way. Testing it out on First Reader, she admitted it could be problematic, but reminded me that with proper set up, I can make the ending not only sensible, but rewarding.
So now, the ending is no longer a concern, and I can turn instead to my characters. Who are they? Why are they where they are? Why are they the way they are? Who are the people in their past, the hurts, the loves, the driving influences? And deeper, what do they represent in their story? What are their fears and desires? What part of the human experience do they bring to the page?
In case you think I’m nuts, that I’m just a control-freak who wants to have everything mapped out to the minutest detail before putting pen to paper, think again. These questions are both integral and basic. They do not need long, detailed answers. They’re gut-check, broad-stroke aspects to complex characterizations, and they can be described in similarly broad terms.
The details, they come in the writing. The weaving together of all the disparate elements, that happens word by word, page by page as I progress through the tale.
The outline is a map. The character studies are the routes I plan to follow.
But if I find a more interesting side road or a scenic route along the way, trust me, I’m going to take it.