Authors are divided into two groups, the planners and the pansters. Me? I’m definitely a panster. Of course, I know in which direction I want the story to go but, apart from a vague idea, I just go with the flow. For me, it’s like listening in on private conversations and just watching as the story unfolds before me. Quite often, I hear words coming out of my characters’ mouths that I never even dreamed of and frequently the story takes a completely different direction. This doesn’t cause a problem and, on the whole, usually enriches the plot.
An example of this is that I never knew Stephan, a character in MY DEAREST FRIEND, had an illegitimate daughter until the sergeant confided it to Stephan’s brother. It came as quite a surprise but added yet another element to the story. I write, primarily, for my own amusement and don’t write to a formula so my characters are allowed to do or say anything they wish. Luckily, this usually works and adds to the enjoyment of writing the book.
The first draft is where I develop the story and characters. Refinement comes later. I am never completely satisfied with the first, second or indeed, third draft, but there has to come a point when you let it go and, for good or bad, allow it to fly.
If anyone had told me that a character could take over a book and make it his own, I would not have believed them. However, I would now have to admit that this did indeed happen. Dominic, Earl of Vale was a very strong character who just strode onto the page and more or less wrote the book himself. He was a fun character to write and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Dominic was so determined to tell his story that even though we vacationed in Orlando, he insisted I paid attention and continued with his story. It was hurricane season, the rain came in torrents and the trees outside our hotel room were horizontal. My husband slept and I wrote.
His is a fun story about an unconventional courtship and unbelievably needed little more than tweaking after the first draft. I have never been so fortunate again. THE PORTRAIT came very close to it however, and again, the first draft proved quite satisfying with only minor changes being made thereafter.
I have been lucky and the stories continue to come. All my characters are dear to me and I have great pleasure in telling their stories. If some never get past the first draft, then so be it, they have been a joy to write.