Creative works by author Dan Foley.

The Making of a Novel

When writing a novel different folks use different methods. Some outline the whole thing before they type a single word of the story. They know where it is starting, where it is going, how it’s going to get there and how it’s going to end. They may stray a bit as they travel along their planned route, and they might end up in a slightly different place than they had set out for, but the trip pretty much keeps to the script.

Others start out with an idea and a vague notion of where the story is going and just start typing. I’m one of those. I usually have an ending in mind, but I find that it changes along the way. It’s leaving on a trip to Florida and ending up in Colorado.  Well, maybe not that far of track, let’s say Mississippi, but you get the idea. And that leads me to the point I want to make. When you write like I do the story takes a lot of twists and turns as it builds. Characters come (and sometimes go), and new plot changes develop that I wasn’t planning on. In other words the story sort of writes itself. It tells me where it needs to go, how it needs to get there, and where and how its going to end.

For me, this is the fun part of writing. It’s also my biggest headache, because when I finally write ‘The End,’ it’s not the end. I need to go back and fix all the little dead ends and inconsistencies I’ve created. So even though I just ‘finished’ my latest novel REUNION, the real work is just starting. Now I have to go back and take care of all those little details when what I really want to do is start another story.

The good part of this is that now I know the characters, know who I want them to be. I can flesh them out, give them a little more personality. It’s only tweaking, true, but I can include all the things I thought about after I wrote a particular scene that I would have put in then in I had thought about it then.

The bad part about it is, I still miss a lot of mistakes because it’s impossible to edit your own work. It’s a good thing I have friends who help with that.