Now that my first fiction book is available, I figured I’d write down some thoughts about the writing process for this book.
When I first started writing each technical book I’ve published I began the same way. I started with a rough outline of what I wanted to teach in the book, and in each section of the book. When the book was finished and published you could look at the outline and the finished product and they would match up almost perfectly! I followed the outline I had initially laid out much like you would expect, I just had to fill out the detail.
So naturally I decided to follow a similar pattern here with my first fiction book. I’ve been playing around with a few story ideas in my head for a while, and I had one more flushed out than the rest. I knew how the story started, I knew how the story ended and I knew the important pieces of conflict that happened throughout the story. All I had to do was to fill out the detail.
Yet, if you saw the outline of that book and read “The Light In The Cabin” you would say to yourself “Huh? That isn’t the same story at all.” Which is very true, the story I wrote was not the story I was originally going to. If you read the outline I originally had, you would notice that neither the light nor the cabin were mentioned at all, and they’re so important in the book I actually wrote that they make up the title!
So how did this happen? I have no idea actually. Perhaps all writers go through something similar, but something strange happened during that last part where all I had to do was “fill out the detail”. The detail started becoming the book, and the detail started driving itself into a different story. Characters that were initially incendental to the plot were now key (perhaps because I enjoyed those characters while filling out the detail?). The main antagonist completely changed. The ending I originally had in mind couldn’t have been further from the ending that is in the book (although truth be told, the ending in the book is much better than what I originally was planning in my honest opinion).
It was such a strange experience. When writing the technical books, it was easy to follow the outline. I needed to teach concept A, so I taught concept A. There wasn’t room for divergence really, it was simply a recitation of the things I already knew. In this fiction book though, that isn’t how it went at all. All I did was diverge. I diverged so much that I actually had to go back and re-write chapter one because by the time I was finished it didn’t make any sense in the context of the story I had actually written. It made perfect sense at the time I wrote it (with the original story in mind), but not after the story led me somewhere else.
I’ve considered going back and writing the story I was intending to write from the beginning, but I don’t think I will. It was a good story I think, but all it would do now is remind me of the story I actually wrote which was better.
I can’t think of a good way to describe the process that happened (great quality for a writer, not being able to think of a description eh?). I had an idea in my mind, and then the story took over and told itself to me, and I just wrote it down.
I hope anyone who reads it enjoys the ride as much as I did.