Originally posted on September 7, 2011
Stephen King in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft says that his intuition guides him as he writes. He talks of muses and of writing about situations and characters rather than plot.
Do any people still argue that King is without a doubt one of the best writers of our time?
I say that, because King is prolific and well-loved. His works have sold millions and millions of times over. And his texts are now even being discussed on college campuses. Chances are you yourself have read at least one King book.
Have I liked all of the books of his I’ve read? No, but I’ve liked the majority of them, and Memoir is by far my favorite, because I was writing the way King encourages us to write before I knew it was “okay” to do so. When I read his book, it was like a light from heaven shining down on my keyboard or a hall pass in high school. (“I don’t have to keep my technique a secret anymore!”)
King also gives us the archaeological metaphor, that a story is like a dinosaur, and you dig, sometimes with big tools but usually with small brushes, until you unearth as much of it intact as you can.
So now you know…when I sit down to write, I have an idea of where a story is going. I see shadows, glimpses, scenes, and characters, but when it comes down to it, it’s not the story until it’s down in black and white. Until it’s written down, it’s still evolving and changing.
So imagine my surprise when a character just had to throw me for a loop.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read books two and three in the Nicki Sosebee series, you might decide to stop right here. If not, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
If you’ve read any Nicki Sosebee books, you’ve met Jesse Roberts. Jesse is a laid-back, casual guy who doesn’t have a whole lot of ambition, but he’s happy with his life and who he is. In book one (Got the Life), Nicki considered seducing Jesse to make Sean jealous. Now, at that time, I had thought (again, remember I’m just looking at the tip of a dinosaur bone that I haven’t begun excavating) that Nicki would have a typical dalliance with Jesse but that they would just go their separate ways. Jesse would finally get to fulfill a fantasy and Sean would wake up. And then, like a good little character, he’d pop up for comic relief now and then.
But it all changed when Nicki kissed Jesse behind the Sedgwick Hotel (in book two, Dead). That was another fuzzy vague (dinosaur bone) scene, but when I actually wrote it, wow. It completely took me by surprise. Jesse was a really nice, lovable guy. As shocked as Nicki was by her reaction, so was I by my own! All of a sudden, Jesse was a three-dimensional character who would not let me just use him to drive a plot and then disappear. No…Jesse planned on doing a whole lot more.
When I imagined the Nicki-Jesse relationship, there were a few things I hadn’t counted on. One is that Jesse has loved Nicki from afar for a very long time. He never expected anything to happen, so when Nicki kissed him, he didn’t waste any time pursuing her. And because he’s made love to her in his mind hundreds of times, when it comes time for him to perform, he is a master. I also hadn’t counted on Nicki’s reaction. We have Nicki who has been hung up on Sean for years, and casual sex (or the occasional boyfriend) is how she deals with her unrequited lust/love. She viewed Jesse as just another guy to distract her from Sean, but she thought Jesse had no depth. He surprised her and swept her off her feet. Had she been prepared, she might have saved herself, but where would be the fun in that?
Now, I’m not going to say much here because book three (No Place to Hide) just came out this week, but suffice it to say that Jesse is here to stay in a big way. Does that mean Sean is thrown to the curb? Not even close. In fact, Nicki’s involvement with Jesse does exactly what she thought it would. Sean starts to accept the true feelings he’s had buried for Nicki for a long time.
So, something I hadn’t planned for Nicki has come to pass. Jesse has become a major player and while Nicki will not make an ultimate choice between the two men for quite some time, she will be in a triangle for a long while. She and Jesse will be on-again/off-again and…well, you’ll just have to wait and see what further develops with Sean.
And, at the rate I’m going, they’ll continue to surprise me too, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens as well!