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  • scrimgerr


Well, it happened. In the middle of my chapter, my hero decided to do something.

I can guess what you must be thinking, and I agree. That sounds fake to me too. Every time I read an interview where the novelist (typically they’re 27, photogenic, and have just signed a huge movie deal – NOT that I’m envious. I’m bigger than that) declares, “Oh, my characters decide my story for me!” my eyes roll back into my head. That is not the way it works. But every now and then art imitates artifice.

Cody (who is slightly older than the kid in the pic) is being taken forcibly back to his old apartment to confront his dad, and he finds that he can’t do it. I did not plan the scene that way. My plan was for Cody to confront his passed-out dad and do something mean-ish or silly-ish or sentimental-ish. But as the elevator door is closing sloooooowly, Cody finds that he can not be there and makes a break for it. His call. Cody’s call. I’m just the guy typing.

A few minutes later the scene was over and my creative consciousness came back from wherever it was vacationing. I hope it had a nice time. I went back to my usual process. I am now a paragraph away from finishing the chapter and handing off to Melanie.

When students ask whether I am a ‘planner’ or a ‘pantser’ I don’t know what to tell them. I am both. I urge them to make a plan. I believe it is the best way to begin. But I also suggest that they leave room for a new idea. My favorite moments in writing are the ones where the story takes over. Like, for instance, that art imitates artifice line. Sorry if it reads a bit too-too. It came to me and I couldn’t say no.


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