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DID YOU *REALLY* THINK THAT YOU’D STICK TO YOUR SYNOPSIS?

July 5th, 2008 4 comments

by Matteo Curtoni

Yeah, I really thought I would. Dammit, I was *sure* I would. I fell in love with the story from day one and there was no reason in Heaven or Hell why I shouldn’t stick to it, write the whole bloody thing and deliver to my publisher precisely what I had planned to deliver. But that’s not gonna happen. Sure, I’ll deliver my novel sometime before the end of July but it won’t be pre-cisely the novel I had planned at first. Because there are things that you cannot possibly know about the story you’re going to write when you’re still working on its synopsis.

This time mine was quite detailed for my usual standards. With twenty pages about plot, fifteen pages about characters and ten pages about setting I thought I knew all I needed to know about my novel and I felt satisfied with it. Definitely. But as satisfied as I was, those pages were only bones and I guess that bones cannot tell us much about the way flesh, tissues and muscles and skin will feel once they’ll start crawling on them.

New characters I didn’t know a single thing about (I had only vague impressions about who they could be and how they would fit into and/or influence the story) started knocking on my door very, very soon and when I let them in I knew that a huge part of the novel had to change. It just had to. And it changed, in an amazingly smooth way. No painful reworkings of the original plot – it felt as if it should have been this way since the beginning, since I was still dealing with bones and waiting for flesh. I tell you, I’m even more in love with it now.

Sometimes I suspect that it’s not even characters or new ideas that end up changing your story but that it’s the actual process of writing. Writing always finds a way of changing your plans, subtly sometimes – maybe so subtly that you may even think that you *did* stick to your synop-sis – sometimes in a more radical and not so subtle way. Writing, yeah.

I believe that creativity is always hungry for a certain amount of anarchy, that authors who really care about what they write need to be surprised by their own stories.

I guess that’s the reason those characters came knocking on my door.

I’m glad they did.

I’m glad that writing didn’t let me stick to my synopsis.

Because the novel I’m writing now feels like a much better one than the one I thought I’d write.

Bones can tell you where you could be headed, but it’s flesh that tells you where you’re really going.

Best,

M.