I’m reading Robert McKee’s Story – a screenwriting book – and ran across this snippet yesterday. I really like it. . . . It’s from the Structure & Setting chapter and he’s talking about the value of research, especially as it relates to thoroughly knowing your characters, which I admit is a biggie for me:
“Research from memory, imagination, and fact is often followed by a phenomenon that authors love to describe in mystical terms. Characters suddenly spring to life and of their own free will make choices and take actions that create Turning Points that twist, build, and turn again, until the writer can hardly type fast enough to keep up with the outpourings. This “virgin birth” is a charming self-deception that writers love to indulge in, but the sudden impression that the story is writing itself simply marks the moment when a writer’s knowledge of the subject has reached the saturation point. The writer becomes the god of his little universe and is amazed by what seems to be spontaneous creation, but is in fact, the reward for hard work.”
I can’t express how much I like knowing that the magical moment when the story seems to possess me, is actually the moment I fully possess the story, so densely and completely, that the words just fly.
And here I thought I was just a stooge for the muse at that mystical moment. It’s much nicer knowing she’s probably sitting off in the corner pouting because I suddenly don’t need her anymore. The moments of brilliance are actually mine. Nifty, that.
I’ll be at the San Diego Christian Writers’ Guild annual conference tonight and tomorrow doing fiction consultations. If you live within driving distance and you like to write, you should come! There will be a wonderful group of speakers and authors there, including Cec Murphey, Jack Cavanaugh, Lynn Vincent and Kathi Macias.
On Monday, I present the full fall line-up of books I plan to devour. . .