So, the other day I went out to lunch with a friend of mine. We like to do this from time to time, it’s a great chance to catch up, see how things are going with each other, and sometimes even vent the frustrations from our daily lives to each other.
He asked what I had been writing lately, if I was thinking of returning to Lines in the Sand, perhaps write a sequel to it, the aftermath of what I went through when I came home from the war.
“Nah,” I said. “Lines was an intense writing experience for me and I’d like to put it down for a while.”
I told him that I wanted to have a little fun, dip my toes into fiction for a while, write something that didn’t have so much to do with real life. Of course, this began a discussion as to how much of “real life” is injected into fiction and we both came to the conclusion that “real life” and fiction are intimately linked, that an author will naturally project at least some portion of his life, his experiences, or feelings into any kind of fictional work. I think that’s true.
But I digress. He asked what I had been writing and I told him that recently an idea occurred to me when I was playing Roller Coaster Tycoon a little while ago. He was slightly taken aback. A video game? Really? Really.
I had created some custom buildings and scenery for a spooky park, two houses… and my mind began to turn. What if there were two men of aristocracy living in each and what if they had feuded for many years over the rulership of the land? What if one of them betrayed the other, a betrayal of the deepest sort because these two had been life long friends. Where would it go? What would happen?
So, I turned to my trusty word processor and before long I had written out a very rough draft, somewhat of a sequence of events, for the story. Originally, I had intended the story to be in verse, kinda like Beowulf. But then it turned into a narrative. Originally, I had intended it to be rather short and whimsical, not very serious. It’s turned out not to be so. Originally, I had intended the betraying character to be of the most dastardly sort, a real mean guy. He’s far from that.
And that brings me to my point. I’ve often found that stories seem to blow up on me. They seem to take on a life of their own after a time. They seem to be guiding me, not me writing them. Characters come to life before my eyes without me even realizing it taking on personality traits I don’t expect. What was once a single tree in a meadow becomes a forest.
I love that about fiction. I love when the story is writing itself not the other way around. After a time, I often find myself “in” that world. I know every piece of it, every hill, valley, house, person.
That story I spoke of has now become a real world and the characters have become rich and textured with their own pasts, feelings, experiences, and motivations. Honestly, I have no idea where it’s going to lead but I feel safe to say, the story will tell me.
It always does.