Friday, March 20, 2009

Chipping Away

I think it was Michelangelo who said that the figure was always in the stone - it was his job to chip away the unwanted pieces to find the statue inside. Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but I like the idea. That is the way I feel about my books - the story and characters already exist - I just have to chip away at the pieces to uncover the story.

I'm at that part of the process where the characters are revealing themselves to me bit by bit, and they tend to do it at the weirdest times. I was brushing my teeth last night when I discovered a really interesting trait about my main character and then a few minutes later I realized that one of the other characters had dreadlocks. Of course he does, why didn't I see that before?

In order to write a book that is true, I have to leave myself open and just let the images and details come. Unfortunately, I can't make my characters do anything - believe me I've tried. A lot of it is instinctual - you know when something doesn't feel right, and the story isn't going to flow. At the same time, when you hit on something that is perfect, when you've figured out something about the character or story that is right, you get a little thrill.

It's about 2% skill and knowledge and 98% magic.

On this date: In 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published.


Shelli said...

i love when your characters speak to you - isnt it weird - wonder where it all comes from. :)

Lee Wind said...

Great image - and I've always thought that quote about Michelangelo finding the angel trapped in the stone was very inspiring. And you're right - it's great when the magic flows...