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What Happens Next?

By Karen H. Richardson

Writers have many methods for developing their story. Some are very methodical and create detailed outlines. Some have a spreadsheet that lists chapters, summaries and potential word counts. While others use writing software such as Scrivener to write and organize their thoughts.

Me, I’ve tried a little of all of these methods. More than likely as my writing matures I will choose one I like best. Having some idea of where the story will go is good and all of these tools can guide the way. But there is something mystical that happens when you sit down to write a scene and your characters take on a life of their own. Before you know it they are having conversations or going through a crisis you didn’t have outlined. It’s as if they jump off the page and take over your well thought-out plot line. Relax, let them go and see what happens. Your story may take on a life that is better than the one you had planned. When the characters shut up, reread your scene. If it has taken you off track, but you like what’s happening, ask yourself, what happens next? Then dive right in to your new story line.

One time I was drafting a new story with a character who I’ve been thinking about for years. She was in her kitchen having just gotten home from yoga and her phone rang (not in my plan). So I let her answer it. On the other end was her mother, very upset (again, not in my plan). Her father had suffered a stroke (A what? Where did that come from?). My story was off and running with a great crisis that developed my character and her relationship with her family. As well, she and her husband were going through their first family crisis together. How would he handle it? Would he know how to support his wife in her time of need? Needless to say, this gave me great opportunity to begin to develop layers of issues.

Plans and outlines are great and necessary when writing a story or novel. Let me challenge you however, to relax every now and then and see where your characters take you. It may be the adventure of your writing life! We always have the editing process to go back and re-write, clean-up and get things back on track.

See you on the pages.

khrichardsonKaren H. Richardson lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband and son. She has over 25 years of experience in communications and marketing. In the last six years, Karen has become more focused on improving her writing skills and has drafted her first novel. She has two blogs, www.kkscandor.com and www.khrauthor.com. She can also be followed on Twitter @khrwriter.

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