This part quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson is particularly apt for my current WIP (I'm deliberately ignoring the second part of the quotation).
It began as an exercise in the evening class I teach as part of the Victorian Adult Education system--six two-hour sessions taking participants from story conception to first draft. (They watch a short clip from a very forgettable film staring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman and have a week to build a story around it, then we discuss the creative process)
I've conducted this exercise more times than I care to remember now and the results always surprise me. In the process, I've written parts of the story to illustrate various stages of story creation and telling, providing a common thread for discussion, and my last group challenged me to complete the story.
For obvious reasons, I'd kept it very simple in the classroom so the first thirty thousand words were easy, merely joining up the dots. Then I started to develop the character of the brother and was ambushed by a transit lounge conversation in the early hours of the morning ten years after Vietnam. Our plane was delayed through bird strike, we were bored, tired, and my companion had drunk more than was wise. He'd been involved in covert operations during the conflict and spoke about how he was recruited and trained. The details were fascinating, but the characters were more so. Before I knew it, I was applying that memory to the brother, building layer upon layer of his character. It was quite electric, but it created an immediate problem--the story couldn't be told the way I'd started it.
Thirty thousand words are hard to put aside, yet the challenges of the story were exciting.
The heroine's point of view wasn't enough and using the brother's revealed too much too soon, so I had to find other ways of telling the story and this required the adaptation of characters already within the tale. Even the beginning had to be changed--the same scene with different insights.
I'm having a ball with it and still don't know quite how it will resolve itself.
It's funny really. I began writing this way, starting out with an idea and letting it take me where it would. To become published, I became a planner, every plot point developed deliberately and the story-telling closely structured. Thirteen published stories later, I'm back at the beginning.
I wonder how common that experience is?
In any case, it's a great life.
Amy