Expect the Unexpected

The other day I was putting some crumbed fish in the oven for dinner and my three year old son was helping me.
“What’s this, mummy? What’s this?”

I told him that it was fish for our dinner. He cast me a curious look. “Nemo? Mummy? Is it Nemo?”

My son loves watching the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. Desperate not to traumatize the little fellow, I said. “No, no, darling it’s not Nemo.”
To my shock, his expression grew cross. “I want Nemo. Get Nemo.”
Cutting a long story short, I had to get out the packet of frozen fish fillets from the freezer again, remove one and say to him, “Okay this one is Nemo,” and put it on the tray for baking.
“I eat that one?” he announced.
“Yes, you eat that one.” I responded.
Apart from feeling slightly disturbed that my son wanted to eat and in fact did eat one of his favourite cartoon characters, it had me thinking about the way I write. I know… but stay with me. I don’t plot my books. I do like to flesh out my characters before I start but once that’s done, I just put them on the page and see what they do. I find the process more exciting/enjoyable that way. My favourite part about writing is that I don’t know what’s going to happen next. In fact, if I’m writing and I’m getting bored, I usually know why. It’s because for the last chapter I’ve known exactly what’s coming up. So I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I figure if I’m getting bored then my reader is definitely about to put this book down. And I don’t want that!
To fix the problem, I usually scrap the whole chapter and go back to the point where I couldn’t predict what was coming next. Eg. The point where my son says, “I want Nemo. Get Nemo.” If I have to do that more than once in the same chapter it’s usually time to concede writers block and just put the thing away for a few days. But most of the time my method works. All writers are different though. I know some authors who plot whole books from start to finish before they even write, “Chapter 1.” But that’s not for me.
Well, enough pondering. Better get back to work.


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