“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” -E.L. Doctorow
There couldn’t be a truer statement for writing. Well, there’s a few others that are dead on accurate, but this one… This one is how I feel lately.
Here’s what I mean:
I participate in a roleplay group in which I use the characters of my WiP Fated to Darkness because roleplay honestly has a ton of benefits for writing, other than just being tons of fun.
In roleplaying, you can’t always control what happens to your character, you don’t hold all the cards. There’s another author and another group of character with their own minds that hold half the deck. That allows you to better explore your character and how they are going to react. It throws you curveballs and you learn that much more about your character’s personality and their qualities. How they think, act, react, survive, weaknesses, strengths, fears, etc.
It really does wonders on getting to really know them. I have probably learned more about my characters and created more of my world through roleplaying then I have just tossing it around in my head and plotting.
Roleplaying also allows you to explore plot bunnies that you aren’t sure if they’ll work in your story, or how you may fit them in. Sometimes it springs a really amazing idea for your novel, and other times you realize what you just came up with and tinkered with is not going to work in the book. On the bright side though, if it doesn’t work for the novel, you still get to explore it out in the roleplay.
However, there is also a tiny downfall to those plot bunnies.
If you’re like me, starting your character in the roleplay at a WAY later date then where you are writing in the novel — because ultimately you know how she turns out and have written the entire series in your head ten times over already so that it literally is almost a part of you — then you’re left finding plot bunnies that you can’t even use yet, but are itching to now write.
It also means that you run into unnecessary roadblocks.
I came up with this amazing, wickedly evil and awesome plot bunny for my character. I don’t know what dark hole it crawled out of, but I know it’s a great shocker and it will really define where I get my character to go. It is exactly what I needed, it is going to become canon in the later books. No doubt about that.
There’s just one tiny problem: I don’t know how the heck I’m going to pull it off just yet. This evil little red-eyed bunny needs something big to happen for this desperate move of my villain’s, and I easily achieve that in the roleplay because these characters she gets close to give her hope again, but in her books… She’s not supposed to have that, so I’m left wondering how the heck I’m going to pull it off so my villain does use the idea.
See what the quote means about driving at night with the headlights? Only able to see so far, but you can make the whole trip that way.
I know this bunny really isn’t on the pressing scale just yet, since it really isn’t going to come up till the very end books yet. But it’s so great that I’m itching to figure out how to make it work in the book, and coming up blank just yet.
I’ve also realized I’ve run into a few other hitches with a few discoveries and troubles she is supposed to run in to. I know something is going to have to happen to get her involved in this neighboring realm, otherwise the later things that are supposed to happen to her aren’t going to fit, but I don’t know what yet. And this one is a bit more pressing because it could very well come up in Book 3 if I want to build that up. Maybe Book 4, I’m not too sure just yet. I have a rough idea of when, and maybe how, but the reasoning behind why it happens is still eluding me to no end.
You see what I mean? I know where she is now, a few snippets of memory, like flashes, of where she is heading, bits that are going to happen, and I know who she becomes, but the rest… How to get her there…
I’m driving blindly at night with only one headlight it feels like. Maybe I need to stop worrying about the future, jot down the ideas I have — even though some of these are ingrained in my head already, I swear I’ve written this series ten times over in my head already, if only it could make it to a computer that way… — and just focus on where I am in the novels.
Then like E.L. Doctorow said, I will find my way driving at night as I go. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and have a bathtub epiphany before then. Who knows?