I’m not talking about those flashes of inspiration that start you off on a new story, but about the ideas that suddenly appear in your mind while you’re writing the first draft – assuming, of course, that you’re a pantser like me!
If I ever plotted a story in advance, chapter by chapter or event by event (as I know some plotters do), I could guarantee that by the time I reached the end of the first chapter, I would throw the plot out the window.
In one sense, my first draft IS my plotting exercise. I start with a vague idea that gradually crystallises once I get into the story and different ideas flash through my mind. Sometimes they evolve from what the characters are doing or saying, or when they take off in a different direction that I had originally thought (and they’re usually right!).
Many times, however, I have an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment, either when something occurs to me about a later event in the story that I need to foreshadow, or when (as happened with my last novel when I was stuck with ‘what happens next?’) my brainstorming friend said just four words that gave me the light-bulb moment. In case you’re wondering, I had just said, ‘Something needs to go wrong while she is working at Luke’s surgery’, and my friend added, ‘Or with the children.’ In the middle of lunch, I waved my fork in the air, and said, ‘Yesss!’
I love the ‘sudden inspiration’ or light bulb moments. To me, they are the most exciting and satisfying part of writing. They can turn a whole story on its head in seconds and give you renewed enthusiasm and/or show you the way forward.
What light bulb moments have you had?
By the way, forgive me if I don’t respond to your comments immediately. By the time you read this, I shall be on my way to North Wales, ready to catch the ferry across to Dublin on Thursday morning. From there, I’ll be driving right across Ireland to Galway, and spending a week in beautiful Connemara. Maybe I’ll get more ‘sudden inspirations’ while I’m there. Meantime, I’ll respond if and when I have access to wi-fi – and if I can drag myself away from those wonderful Irish pubs, of course!