I love it when my novel comes to life. For me, it was last week that the novel I’m writing came to life. But what does that mean? I suppose for different people that statement can mean different things. For me it means the characters and the plot are now vibrant and interesting to me… and of course, the villains are the ones who made it this way, once I crystallized the motivations for their villainy.
Before it came to life my novel had an outline. And I wrote each chapter as I thought it should go. For the first draft I typically write the story in the form of a screenplay. This is so I can write it faster, keep it fresh, and go from one section to another quicker. It allows me to zip through the draft quickly and edit any scene involving a specific character. But… this first draft was only mildly interesting until I got to the chapter that one of my main villains first entered the story. He is so deliciously nasty.
When I wrote this character, and he was “speaking” the lines… the rest of his villainous mayhem suddenly came to life. His motivations made sense to me. The rest of the story, and the plot, made sense to me. This normally happens in the first draft of any novel I finish. For novels I do not finish, typically I get to the end of the first draft and wonder why I wrote it. Sometimes I return to a second draft, and sometimes I do not. But if I finish a novel, typically something happens in the first draft to bring it to life. When the novel comes to life it’s like adding chocolate to milk… it’s like adding jalapenos to chili… it’s like adding rum to coke.
For this particular novel it was a villain which caused my novel to explode into a dynamic rainbow of awesomeness. Normally when I come up with an ending, that’s the moment when the novel comes to life for me. Because the ending can tie the rest of the novel together. But so can a good villain.
So what about you? When you write… when does the novel come alive during the writing process? Is it in the first draft? After several drafts? When a particular character seems real?