The hummingbird is constantly in motion, a high energy creature, nervously darting from flower to flower, desperate to maintain enough nutrition to keep herself going at top speed. This flower, now this one, no, maybe that one, oops, here comes a predator…
I discovered only recently that some well-regarded and successful novelists have hummingbird muses. Such writers begin their books with no clear idea of where the story is going. Some reasons I’ve heard for this approach are that the author likes to be surprised by the characters, that she prefers to let the story follow its own path, and that she just can’t write any other way. This is sometimes called flimmering (flimmer = to flicker or move erratically.)
What astonishes me about this is not so much the fact that people can write an extended piece this way, but that they can produce one that apparently works on a structural level. It seems a little like building a house by starting with the brick in the bottom left hand corner and working on upwards. My muse is definitely an owl – I don’t begin to write the novel until I have the framework firmly in place. I generally do a long outline, a shorter synopsis and a chapter plan before I start on the book proper.
You’ll read in my bio for this site that I view myself as an intuitive writer. How is this possible when I sound like a complete control freak? Well, all the preliminary planning allows the subsequent writing of the book to flow freely and not be held up by thorny structural issues along the way. I’d normally do something like this: [Read more…]