Posted by on Apr 2, 2011 in General Insanity | 5 comments

I’ll tell you a secret, I wrote one hell of a scene yesterday. I sniffled, quite a lot. It’s kind of embarrassing that I cried over my own story. I’m telling you anyway, because that’s just the kind of gal I am.

For better or worse, I’m a discovery writer. I don’t really know what’s going to happen next, and I think that’s why this particular scene hit me so hard. The previous scene had been light, cheerful even–quite the feat considering how dark the story is overall. There’s a moment when Brand is sure he knows what’s going on, and something soul-crushing happens instead. I think I nailed it.

I realized after I reread it that scenes where something terrible happens are so much more memorable. The truly awful things that happened in books I really loved are what I remember most. I guess we’re wired to remember the bad things better, because it even happens in life. Do you remember the last really great day you had? I’d wager not. You remember the last abysmal one though, don’t you? It seems like the really painful stuff touches us at a deeper level, too. When someone you know or a character in a book overcomes something huge and terrible, the triumph is so much more poignant.

I was scared that anything I wrote today wouldn’t measure up, but today’s words came easily, more easily than any in the last few weeks. I guess crying resets those creative circuits. 🙂



  1. Congratulations!

    I’m a discovery writer, too, and I actually have grown to really like that. My trend is that the first draft uncovers what’s actually happening, and then a second draft — a total rewrite, usually — tightens it up and removes all the parts where I was explaining to myself what was happening. 🙂 It also deepens the parts that need expanding. Often, I don’t know my characters very well when I start writing, but by the end of the first draft I do; the second draft incorporates that.

  2. I do enjoy the process of uncovering characters as I go along. Just like you, much of what I come up with doesn’t make it into later drafts, but it helps me get to the know the characters better. Those scenes that I cull out end up sort of like character sketches.

  3. Kurt Vonnegut said something like, You have to love your characters and do terrible things to them.

    • Maybe this is why writers so often suffer from depression and become alcoholics. We make up people to love and then we punish them over and over.

  4. It’s been a while since I came by to see how you’re doing. Just curious to see how your book is coming along and see if you have discovered anything about writing that might help me. 🙂

    Anyway, I am also a discovery writer, even though, as I recall, I hadn’t heard that term before a few weeks ago. Basically I thought of my self as a non outline writer. Anyway, I think you have a point about difficult situations. I sometimes sort of use C. E. Murphy’s stuff as a model for my what I call danger scenes. Or bad stuff happens scene. And I can more easily remember her bad stuff scenes than her Good stuff happens scenes. Even though I do remember some of those pretty clearly.

    BTW I use her because her scenes come to mind easier I guess because they stand out more than other writers.

    So Happy Writing

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