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Brantwijn Serrah Walking Strange Roads.j
  • Writer's pictureBrantwijn Serrah

Behind The Scenes: Don't Ask Me, I Just Work Here

If you follow any writers on social media, you're likely to see the odd joke or meme about characters taking over the writing process and running away with the plot. We all giggle about this and throw our hands up in good-natured frustration, but the truth is, this is a very real phenomenon and it's a goddamn problem.

Behind the scenes: an angry-looking cat

When you sneak a peek behind the scenes, you'll discover a whole host of unplanned plot points. Certain characters were never meant to be together. Some villains were never meant to be redeemed. Sometimes the princess was supposed to be in another castle!

There's nothing to be done about it, though. When you're a writer, part of you is always a slave to the story, and the personalities in that story. When a character reveals something new and unexpected, you can try to ignore it, or try to force the story to conform to your outline in spite of the hiccup, but it will never feel right. Once the character has had their say, there's no going back.

Behind the Scenes: Baby Yoda in front of a fire

Part of being a storyteller is letting the story tell itself. Sometimes things only unfold as you explore them, never before. I've been lost in a space of worldly exposition, suddenly to discover something new and surprising that even I—the author!—didn't know before. In that sense, writing is as much a journey of discovery as reading.

If you pay attention to the memes, it can be a truly maddening experience. But I'll tell you from experience, it's a pretty fantastic one as well. In a way, it's like reading itself: just because we are writing down the story doesn't mean we know the story. We're discovering it just like a reader would, and hopefully will. It's something we share with our readers, and something that, in my opinion, makes the art of storytelling even better.

I've often asked myself, what's my ultimate goal as a writer? Is it to 'hit it big' like Stephen King or George R.R. Martin or Stephenie Meyers? To have my works put on the big screen or made into a multi-million-dollar HBO series? To have Jason Momoa cast in the leading role of my sensual fantasy series?

Behind the Scenes: Jason Momoa

Well, I wouldn't exactly say no to any of those things. Especially if it means I get to meet Jason Momoa.

Ultimately, though, what I really want is to share my joy of the story with others. I want the satisfaction and pleasure of knowing these tales are as meaningful to those reading them as they were to me, writing them.

Now, I understand a bit more of that excitement: because all authors are also readers, and readers first. Even though I'm writing them, I'm discovering these worlds and these characters and all their wonderful threads and terrors and pleasures for the first time—just like when I read a new and fascinating story written by someone else. And I want to share that.

Behind the Scenes: Writer Meme

We writers joke about characters taking the reins, and plots spinning out of control. The truth is, we're simply starting to understand our stories better, and still getting to know these characters. It's a journey for us. What makes us writers is the overwhelming urge and excitement to share those crazy journeys with you.

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