One of the benefits of having worked on this manuscript for so %$@#$ long is that I really know what needs to happen in terms of events and the physical movement of the story; they need to journey to Guerande, they need to stop for dinner at Baron Geffoy’s chateaux, they run into so and so at the tavern. I’ve finally got all that stuff firmly nailed down.
So now with all that out of the way, in this draft I am able to really focus on the relationships between these characters. Their interactions are really sparking and growing, but without my dragging them, kicking and screaming, through the motions. For the first time, these relationships feel absolutely real to me, not part of a story I’m writing. It’s the dictation stage, where I just plop myself down as an observer and watch the characters interact and write down what they do and say. They are their own people now.
Relationships are the heart of story for me. Sure we need a good plot, some event or series of events. But that is mostly so we have a vehicle for getting everyone together, for getting them to interact with each other. The plot is the crucible we use to apply pressure to our characters to see how they act and react and interact when stressed. That's when true character emerges.
I love this stage, it is like watching a fire ignite after puffing and blowing on the kindling for ages.
(And I’d like that metaphor a whole lot better if it weren’t 90 degrees and fires raging in Los Angeles… ☹ )