writing what you know

Here’s the thing. I’ve been struggling with a section of my novel. This is the novel I’ve been working on for years, plugging away intermittently, when I have time. Slowly, slowly it’s taking shape. But there is a section I just haven’t filled in.
A section that I know I have to work on, but which is empty. Big, empty spaces live there instead of words. At a workshop yesterday, I had an epiphany. I’ve been writing this whole novel by exploring the relationship between two people. It works (if I do say so myself). We get to know these characters well. We like them. We wish them well. Then, in this section that I’ve been avoiding, the one where there is a big hole; I’ve been trying to figure out the plot. Now don’t get me wrong, plot is important, but why do I think I have to change, in this section, from focusing on character to focusing on plot? It’s because there is a complication that arises in the plot here, so I’ve been trying to figure it out by approaching the material from the perspective of what happens. But here’s my epiphany. I can just keep working on character. How would they respond in this circumstance? What will they say about this piece of information? How will they feel when they discover this complecation? Aha! Why abandon what has been working? This is it, I’m sticking with my exploration of these two characters, and beware to the plot–I’m gonna get you!

One Reply to “writing what you know”

  1. That's what Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott suggests. If she were reading your blog, she'd give you a big high five and say, "Just follow your characters around."

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