Thursday, June 28, 2012

How stories take on a life of their own? by Michael W. Davis

Being both an engineer and a mathematician, I figured the process associated with writing fiction would be similar to what I learned over 30+ years. You know, you create a plan, a scheme, and you stick to it the best you can till you’re done. Well, yes and no. It is possible, at least for me, to initially plan out the basic structure of the plot, scenes, and characters, but a strange thing happens when I start actually writing the story, it evolves with a life of its own, really. As I visualize scenes in my head, it’s like I’m there witnessing what’s happening first hand. The responses by the characters, actions that take place, events that come up, they just kind of happen on their own. Its one of the reasons I lock myself up in a dungeon for hours at a time.

I actually live the story, and if I stop, unless I’m at the end of a chapter, I lose much of the environment and surroundings I’m seeing in my minds eye. For me, that’s a good thing. It’s why I enjoy the actual creation of the story so much. I get to live in a new world and meet new people, much like I guess the readers do. Only difference is, and this is the really neat part, if I don’t like the way things are playing out, I pick up my mental eraser, rewind the tape, and imagine something new. For example, in one novel, I had a supporting character slated to be killed mid way through the story. But as the character evolved, she became so real, such a terrific person, I fell in love with her (as a brother of course) and I couldn’t kill her off. So I just had her get roughed up a little. And the storyline can change drastically.

In Tainted Hero, the end result turned out to be about 50% of my original vision. In Forgotten Children, things ended up to be roughly 70% of the initial idea. But in my latest (Blind Consent), man, the story took several loops and ran off in a brand new direction, only matching about 30% of my original ideas. This evolutionary process went against my fact-based training and was difficult at first. But I’ve learned that if I cut the strings, unfetter my mind with too much structure, and let the story go as it sees fit, the end result is tons better, and I have a ball in the process.

Big Mike


  1. I'm sorry, but I couldn't get past the misspelling in the header.

    1. You're absolutely right. I've corrected the error for the original poster.


  2. Mike, some people call that THE ZONE. It's the best escape. We not only live it, but we provide it for others to live.

    Don't stop.