Can it be a year since I spent a month writing a novel? (which I subsequently took 3 months to revise!) Yes. NANOWRIMO comes round again in just over 2 weeks' time, and I'm not yet sure whether I should join it. I'm still in the throes of my latest creation with an estimated 10 000 words to go - not so much if you know what you are going to write about, but I still have 2 murders unsolved and suspects I'm not sure about! And yes, I did plan the backbones of the plot, but the characters took over - conventional practice, apparently. That's what characters do. And when you get to the end of the road with one, there always another waiting just round the corner.
That sounds so secondhand that I wouldn't believe it if I didn't experience it time and again.
Take Friday, for instance. I was sending my police inspector off on a mission when suddently a young policeman appeared. I called him Felix and he instigated good dialogue from my suspicious character of the moment. Now he's fixed in the plot. I want him there. I realise now that he was missing before. He reminds me of a young man I knew as a student - a cherubic gay who looked ravishing - a nice man I'm not going to describe anywhere, but you know what I mean.
How does that happen?
I can't explain it for anyone else. I can barely explain my own motivation. What I think happens is that all the ideas I've ever got from observing people come pouring out when I start writing. I don't really describe people. It's usually arbitrary and gains importance only when matters of identification are involved, or when the person's appearance - e.g. obesity - is responsible for other mechanisms. A writer decides what the reader is to know. The reader can then do what he wants with it - add, subtract, alter - it makes no difference to the printed page. I don't write regency romance, where a forelock or violet blue eyes can cause the reader to fall in love with the (fictional) character. In crime writing, even the mild, homely stuff I produce, if a guy has a scar he got it somewhere. I use the blue eyes to create relationships between the characters rather than entrance the reader. If someone is stabbed, I need to know if it was done from above or below, using the left or the right hand. If a gun is fired, the calibre is important. Would the gun fit into a handbag? If the suspect turns out to have advanced Parkinson's, he probably can't shoot straight....I could go on.
It's all a big adventure in brain jogging.
More another time...