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23 October, 2013

I am (I think subconsciously) resisting wading in too far into my latest WIP (“The Various Lives of Carrington Sloane”) because I know that after Christmas I have promised myself I will reread and redraft my last (ie first) novel and I have half an eye on that. So as a result I am still feeling my way into Cal’s story/stories (that will make sense when you read the book but I cant spoil it now), and after a couple of months in its shallow waters, I have the major plot line worked out, as well as a few subs. Cal himself is coming together too, but the other characters are not yet as well-defined. I find the only way to find out who they really are is to let them improv some scenes, watch the results and pick up on clues or dialogue they give me. For example, in chapter two (see? I told you I hadn’t got very far) Cal goes on a first date with Danielle. Partly because they have just met so a first date is clearly what will happen, but also from a construction point of view, a first date gives them a perfect chance to ask each other all those getting-to-know-you questions and learn about who they are, and therefore tell the reader (and at this early stage, the author) who they are too. A useful show-don’t-tell mechanism.

Anyway, they were just sitting down to dinner, chatting easily when this happened:




Trevor arrived with the wine, and the two diners leant back to allow him room to present the bottle. ‘Would you like to taste the wine first, sir?’ he asked. Cal knew that this would be the sophisticated thing to do, but not knowing what he was checking for in the tasting, opted against. ‘No that’s fine,’ he said, ‘you can just pour.’

Trevor turned towards Danielle first, inclined the bottle, but before any wine poured, she covered the glass with her hand. Trevor stopped, righted the bottle.

‘I think I’d like to taste the wine first please,’ she announced, ‘if that’s okay.’

‘Naturally,’ Trevor agreed without missing a beat. Danielle moved her hand, and a quarter-glass was poured. Danielle lifted the glass by the stem, examined the contents, allowed the low restaurant lights to shine through the wine as she swirled it around the bowl of the glass.

‘Hmmmm,’ she declared knowledgeably, and brought the glass to her nose, inhaling deeply.

Satisfied with the bouquet, she took a sip, allowed the wine’s aromas and subtle flavours to infuse onto her palate. Slowly, she swallowed, replaced the glass on the table, and gestured towards it. ‘That’s fine,’ she nodded, and Trevor filled her glass.

He poured a glass for Cal, placed the bottle between them, and retired with a shallow nod.

Cal picked up his wine, took a sip. It tasted like wine.

‘So you know your wine then?’ he asked, examining his glass as expertly as Danielle had.

‘Oh Christ no,’ she grinned, ‘wine’s wine, I haven’t got a clue, but it pissed me off that he asked you and not me.’

‘Ah, right.’

‘As though I know nothing about wine because I’m a woman.’

‘But you don’t though do you?’ Cal teased.

‘True enough,’ she shrugged, ‘but he didn’t know that.’

‘So you were just being awkward.’

‘I prefer to think of it as pixie-ish,’ she grinned, and offered her glass to be clinked. Cal obliged, added a “cheers” and smiled. She was a keeper.




I knew Danielle was quite confident from the way she had made Cal work for the date in the first place, but the way she made her point about the wine, and her subsequent explanation, told me so much about her. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word pixie-ish in my life, but she clearly has and it describes her perfectly. And the first I knew about it was when it appeared on the screen in front of me.

Where do these words come from? Where do these scenes come from? I have no idea. I sat down and started typing a dinner scene and the characters did the rest. It was one of those bizarre moments we all know as writers when we realise that what we write must originate from inside our heads somewhere, but we are not aware of a conscious creative process. It just happens. If I were a religious person I might think that a higher power was putting the words there, or at least guiding me towards a place where I can think of them myself. But I’m not so I put it down to the Muse or to Inspiration. Whatever we call it and wherever the words come from, it makes us who we are. It makes us writers.


  1. Desiree G permalink

    I also have a WIP simmering. Some days it hits its boiling point and the words flow effortlessly. Then there are days I have to make sure I still have the burner turned on. The pilot light can be a bit tricky!! Can’t wait to read more about Danielle and Cal.

  2. Delilah permalink

    This same thing happened for me yesterday. The words just popped into my head and I had no choice but to see where they’d lead me.

  3. I smiled all the way through from the beginning of your post (I’ve been word-deprived and email writing deprived, another story for another time ;-D) but when I read that scene and first Danielle does that wine check thing and then she’s all “pixie-ish” (love it lol) and her reasoning just made Danielle my fictional girl-crush from that one scene 😀 I love it so much I wish I could be a bitch and say ‘the hell with book 1, Danielle is awesome so you must finish Cal’s story!” I know you have to do what you have to do; it’s like we always fall in love with what we’re doing now and forget how much in love we were with what we did before… if that makes sense….
    Point, awesome! There is nothing better than when a character takes over and uses you, lol, I can’t wait to read book 1 because that means you’ll be done with book 2 and in love with book 3 lol 😀

    Ok, I have some TRG reading to catch up on 🙂
    oh yeah, emails and life just can’t get their act together I tell ya 😉

    • The funny thing is that Danielle is (at the moment at least) a lesser character in the life(s) of Cal, a sort of reader’s representative who can ask the questions the reader wants answers to. She was originally nothing more than someone Cal could use his chat up line about the dream on:
      but now they have gone out i have come to know her better and understand who she is. Kind of like me going on the date with her too.
      I’m hoping i can keep working on this while i rework my other book – they will be at different stages of the process so hopefully i can achieve that. we shall see after christmas

  4. I write with very little planning and i enjoy nothing more than when a little scene becomes so much more enlightening because the characters have taken control. That tiny section hooked my interest so i wish you luck in your writing and hope you discover more about the characters 🙂

    • i’m the same, certainly on my first draft anyway. I have an idea where the overall plot is going but alot of the character detail and all of the subplots just happen along the way – the characters generate all that stuff themselves 🙂
      Thanks for the positive feedback, i may post a few more excerpts as i feel my way in

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