How I Write

How I Became a Writer and How I Sit Down And Write

            When I begin to write, I already have the time, place and setting. And I have the characters. And I keep in mind that I am writing romantic fiction—not anything depressing or dark or violent. I have to remember that it is a love story—eventually, the two main characters … a man and a woman, who oftentimes are still a boy and a girl … eventually will fall in love and live happily ever after. I don’t want to get sidetracked into crimes, mysteries or history. It’s going to have a happy ending, despite all the obstacles that get in the way.

            The first thing that happens when I begin to write is that one of the characters wakes up in the morning with something in mind to do. I know what that character plans to do, but life is not like that. We all make plans, but we never know what is going to happen—whether we will get to carry out our plans. And my characters—they set out to go somewhere, do something, see somebody. But they don’t really know what is going to happen. They hope it happens the way they have planned, but that’s not life.

            I follow along behind my characters and wait to see what happens. Believe it or now, when I begin writing the scene or chapter for that day in the life of one of the characters, I don’t know what is going to happen. I wait to see. I know some writers have it all planned out—they have everything already storyboarded out, have an outline, have notes for each part. But for me, that’s not life. All I know is that what happens that day will take one character or the other … or both characters … a little further on the way to falling in love and living happily ever after.

            And I listen to the characters. I don’t tell them what to say. If I try to put my words in their mouths, they object and tell me, “No, that’s not me. That’s not what I want to say.” And I let the story unfold. The time, the place, the setting and the personalities will take the story wherever it needs to go.

            That all probably seems strange to most writers. But I think each writer has to write in his or her own way. I really don’t know what is going to happen next, what obstacle or pitfall is going to befall the characters today or the next day. I just keep in mind that eventually they will overcome whatever is in the way, will fall in love, will remain in love, and will live happily ever after.

Beth's Story - The Bride Arrives, Part I