Kelly has been working on one of her novels for the past two weeks. On Monday evening she and I were sitting at the kitchen table and she had her head down on her arms. I asked her if she was tired because she's been working all week, then volunteering at the trolley museum on Saturday and Sunday- a hectic draining schedule even for a 25-year old. She raised her head and looked at me and asked, "Have you ever seen your books playing out in your head like a movie?"
The answer to that question is, Yes. I have.
Often I start a story with really nothing in mind. I just sit down and begin writing. The story creates itself. But once it begins there are many directions it can go, many forks in the road and curves that can take it in various directions. Sometimes when I'm just sitting in my chair in the living room with the cat on my lap it may look like I'm just relaxing, doing nothing, but there is always something going on in my head. Sometimes multiple somethings. One of those things is a visual movie-like playing out of the current work in progress. In my mind I can see my characters. I know what they look like, what they wear, where they live, what their house looks like, how it's furnished, the flow of one room into another, and even the roads they travel, what they pass by on their way from point A to point B. I see everything in my imagination. I can run various scenarios through my mind like video clips. If it doesn't look or feel right, I rerun it with a different route, different dialogue, maybe different characters the main character interacts with.
Often while waiting for sleep I play a little movie in my head. A what if sort of thing- maybe using the current characters I'm working with but putting them in another place or a difficult situation to see how they would react and behave and eventually get themselves out of that spot. Maybe that's how authors entertain themselves- I don't know.
But, even as I am reading anything that I've written a simultaneous video is playing in my head so it's like I am actually in the story shadowing the characters. When Bryce shatters the coffee carafe in one of the Talon novels I see each piece glinting in the kitchen alcove. I see the ever so slight tremor in Dr. Talon's hand as he extracts the piece of glass from her neck as she's lying on one of the morgue tables and then sutures her wound. As cold and frosty as he is, he cares deeply for her and regrets pushing her so hard that she reacted as she has and broken the carafe in anger. But he also knows who and what she really is while she does not yet understand her place in the world.
Kelly looked immensely relieved when I replied, "Yes," to her question. Stories are always running through my head both as a story and also as an accompanying movie, if you can call it that. It's just a part of the creative process, the visionary aspect that helps an author make a story leap from the page into the reader's imagination and come alive for them.
I'm truly blessed to have this gift, and doubly blessed because my daughter has inherited it.