For Saturday, February 6, 2016:
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
Yesterday I finished the first revision of the second draft of my new novel – I think that means the next draft will be #3 – and I was struck again by how different this book has turned out from its first concept. By the time I’d finished the first draft it had already changed, and the second and third go-rounds of the second draft made it more so. All thanks to the characters themselves.
They directed me more than I did them. They introduced me to their friends and neighbors. One of the main characters even gave me the title of the book. All of them left their footprints in the snow for me to follow – literally, because the story starts in the winter in Vermont – except, of course, for the one who left tire tracks instead.
I love these characters! I fell in love with the people in my first novel, too — I even shed a few tears when I finished that one because I thought I wouldn’t see them again — and I’ve read that some other novelists do so, too. (There was no need for tears this time, though, because I’ve already started the second in what will be an occasional series, so I’ll see them again, along with new folks.)
Plot is always important, naturally, but in this case the book is more about the people. I had some plot points I wanted to get in there, which I did, but the characters took my original idea for a plot and went in all different directions with it. And, too, when I first started writing the book, I had no idea how it would end. Thank goodness the characters knew – or, more accurately, they showed me how this chapter of their lives, which they allowed me to witness, would come full circle.
I’m eager to meet up with everyone again in the next book, but I mustn’t get ahead of myself. I still have to type up the revised second draft manuscript first (if I can read my hen-scratched handwriting), and I’m sure I’ll do some more tweaking as I go along. Then it goes back to my readers for their suggestions and critiques before I finalize the book, so there’s still a ways to go yet.
Since the folks in town have just emerged from mud season, though, maybe they’ll be kind enough to leave behind some more footprints for the next installment.