One of the most important lessons I have learned over years of writing is to trust the process. That being said, what exactly is the process? For me, it’s a messy one.
First, of course, is the simple (or not simple) act of moving the pen across the paper or pressing the keys. I need to trust that by doing this I am going to be able to create a rich and meaningful story. The first words are often not incredibly well-written, usually lacking depth and sensory detail, but they move me towards something true.
Much of the time I do not have a clear idea of what is going to happen, exactly what a character is going to say or do, until it is visible on paper or on the screen. The process of putting down one word after another, one sentence following another to create a scene, brings knowledge and insight and truth.
A little more than 45,000 words into my new novel, I had about fourteen chapters from three different points of view. As I learned about the lives and secrets and goals of my characters, I had written a few flashbacks throughout, images and scenes and conversations my characters revealed to me. Sometimes they blurted something out and sometimes they whispered, but it was all important and became part of the chapter, even if it didn’t fit neatly into the scene.
At one point, I thought of beginning each chapter with a scene from the past, in italics, then getting on with what was happening in the present. An awful idea.
This past weekend, I restarted the novel. I pulled out most or all of the scenes that happened in the past and used them to create new and better beginning chapters. Now I am revising what I have so far, the scenes and chapters that come after, and they are richer for knowing what came before.