Charlene Teglia posted today over on Romancing the Blog about the many ways to write a book. She talks about missing the “innocent ignorance” of “how else could it happen?” The notion made me smile. I was there in the not too distant past. Back in April when Pot and I first started working together as critique partners, she challenged a lot of my plot elements in House of Cards and there were times I sat there dumbfounded–“But that’s how it happens!” Thankfully, I have gotten beyond this limitation and am willing to expand my horizons and look at other possibilities. I think HOC is a much stronger book for having my having gotten to that point. So thank you, Pot, for pushing me to explore territories unknown.
Anyway, the post this morning got me to thinking about those Choose Your Own Adventure novels I read as a kid. You know the ones. You’re at a pivotal point and if you want to open the door and go into the basement you go to page 85. If you want to go back the way you came, you go to page 47. I got the biggest kick out of those, and gradually I would read through and try every permutation of adventure possible. And I have to wonder how the authors who created those books manged to tie everything back on itself.
Starting a new book is kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Except you’re creating it from scratch. There are times when this is exciting–there are endless possibilities, and you as Goddess of your own world can do anything. That’s heady stuff. Particularly for those of us who are control freaks or who simply like making decisions. I mean, c’mon, how many of you started writing because a) you wanted to write another ending to a real life event, b) you got teed off about an episode of your favorite TV show or a movie, c) you wanted to imagine you were someone else. C’mon. Show of hands. Yeah, thought so. Most everybody did it at least ONCE.
But there are also times when the notion of endless possibilities is terrifying. How will I choose? Sometimes I feel like that at the very beginning because I’m one of those people who don’t start with much as foundation. For Flash Point all I knew initially is that I wanted to write a serial arson story. Then I had to figure out who the hero was. Would he be tortured or not? Dark or not? Who was the heroine? How did they hook up? What was her background? Was she in the witness protection program? Why did she change her name (I knew that she had, just not the why of it, initially)? Do I have any scenes from the POV of the arsonist? Do I keep it just within the hero and heroine’s heads? Do I want to try to frame someone? My hero? My heroine? How? Lots and lots of questions! And Pot always comes up with more that make me think, which is both fabulous and frustrating when I don’t have the answers yet.
How about the rest of you? Do you enjoy choosing your own adventure or does the idea of making all those decisions petrify you?