...and I take my whisky neat.
As I jot my musings down, I am 1317 words away from hitting National Novel Writing Month's 50,000 word mark, and taking a little break to consider what those words will be.
My characters have been surprising me, creating little corners for me to write myself out of. When I first started writing, 600 years ago, that happened all the time, and it wasn't surprising. I'd sit down to type (yeah, I started on a manual) with a cool name for my character and a cool setting in my mind's eye, and absolutely no notion of a plot. It was all very - well, slice of life if I'm kind to myself, and wretched if I'm honest.
Since then I have learned (I think) to plot first and introduce characters later. Thinking up names for my pro- and antagonists is now a reward for getting at least the bare bones of a plot laid out. (I won't say "outlined," 'cause I know that some people cringe at that word; but if it slips in, know that I'm not talking about the I. A. 1. a. outline that is for organizing already manifest thoughts. My "outlines" have a lot of *s and cross-outs. But I digress.) Sometimes in the middle of filling in the story, I have a better idea and change it's direction. When that happens, I usually make new notes.
My notes for this year's NaNo project were half a printed page, and ended with "After that they go ahead with [First Protagonist's] dream of touring America, and off they go into the sunset." For the first time, maybe, I think that is literally how this draft will end, with two of the protagonists going off into the sunset. The other few paragraphs of my notes were very sketchy, but did not include four other characters who have appeared and made themselves quite prominent.
They have challenged me to learn all kinds of things about their lives and times ... and as I take time out to write this, I think I can hear them chuckling at me from their various vantage points. Taking lead among the laughter is that of the character who asserted a notion that neither my First Protagonist nor I had ever considered. First Protagonist and I both had to take a short break to wrap our heads around it!
I am happy to take my characters' ideas into consideration. My left brain says I'd better be, because they are, after all, aspects of my own layers of consciousness, and, because I mostly write alone, offering the only help I'm likely to get. My right brain thinks it's a little too much like a house guest rearranging the living room furniture, and is not being entirely gracious about it. In my efforts to reach 50,000 words by wine-and-cheese thirty today (NaNo says I have until midnight on November 30th), I'll take all the help I can get, even if it means rearranging some tables and chairs. Next year, however, I will endeavor to make more detailed notes.