Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 2: N.A. Nelson Caught Off Guard

I love to be caught off-guard when I’m writing. I pray for those magic moments, especially on days when I’m dragging myself to the keyboard.

My first surprise was when Luka’s sister, Karara showed up:

I was typing away at a scene and out of the corner of my mind, this teen girl walks in carrying a basket on her hip. Her hair was divided into eight braids and she had attitude. I remember thinking “Well, hello, who are you?” And while I typed, she rolled her eyes and flipped her head, and in no uncertain terms let me know exactly who she was. She’s one of the strongest characters in the book and definitely one of my favorites—and she was totally unplanned. Magic.

My second surprise came when I left a gate open in a scene:

Luka was doing a trial run of his “seeing” test and when he gets to the wash area, he notices that the entrance gate of the wash area—usually closed to keep caiman out—is ajar. I have no idea why I wrote it that way, perhaps to create an eerie mood; anyway I went about my merry way and forgot about it. But several months and several chapters later, a friend reminded me during critique group, “You left the gate open back in the Punhana scene; is that going to come into play later?” To which I replied. “Hmmmm, I did, didn’t I? Better figure that out.”
And lo and behold, in the next chapter, that gate being open provided the perfect puzzle piece to connect two pieces of the story. Yeah, I planned it that way all along.

My last surprise, was the biggie: how the boys were related:

I had no idea, but I knew I didn’t want to it to be obvious. The truth is, up until a certain point, their stories were not related: Tirio was in Florida and Luka was in the Amazon, so I didn’t have to worry about the relationship. But then, when the time came for their paths to cross, I remember thinking “Oh, man. I really painted myself into a corner here.” So I strapped my 14 month old daughter in the Kelty backpack, leashed up our two Weimaraners, Abby and Eli, (RIP-Eli) and headed for a little wooded trail by our house.

(Not hard to imagine a jungle scene when you’re walking through this, huh?)

This was a well-tread route for me; and it had gotten me out of a lot of “What now?” writer situations. And on this turn in the road: as clear as if I’d planned it all along—the boys’ relationship came to me. And I remember smiling and feeling such a load lift and thinking,

“That’s it. OMG, how perfect, how gosh-darn perfect. That’s it.” Phew!


Barrie said...

I love reading about a-ha moments! Thanks for sharing. :)

Amanda said...

i love your insight, nina.

can't wait to read,

Regina Scott said...

I love it when characters and situations surprise you. That's the fun of being an author. I bet your book is full of wonderful moments! Can't wait to read it!

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

I've always been interested in that breed of dog. :)

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read the final version--and I hadn't realized you didn't know how the boys were related for so long!!! No wonder I couldn't guess.