Sunday, June 24, 2012


This week I happened to eavesdrop on a conversation that took me by surprise.

A gentleman (a doctor), and a rather attractive young woman were sharing stories about his aunt, a Catholic missionary nun at the orphanage where the woman worked.

It was a familiar tale. They spoke of his aunt's devotion to God and to her work despite crushing poverty and suffering. Both of them became emotional as they spoke of her--the doctor because his aunt had recently passed away, and the woman, because she had known his aunt since the day she was born, as she put it. Whether it was a gesture of compassion or attraction I don't know, but he reached over (I saw that coming...), pulled her close, and was just about to kiss her...

...when she dropped the bomb: his aunt was her mother!! A Catholic nun--her mother! Well, you can imagine how that little tidbit of information changed everything! He nearly fell out of his seat! I nearly stumbled over a stone in the road!

So...what do you think happened next?

I'm not telling...because this entire scene actually unfolded in my head while I was out for a long walk, trying hard to overcome a case of writer's block...

...and this little piece of information came as a total surprise to me!! I'm 1/4 of the way through the novel, and the possibility never crossed my mind. I was just playing with dialog in my head when Rachel let this slip...and everything changed. All of a sudden, my imaginery friends were talking to me again!

I've heard of this happening to other writers...their characters sometimes "surprising" them by doing or saying something that the author never imagined, taking the story into unexpected and uncertain territory.

I can't wait to see where this scene takes us. I'm working to figure it out as fast as I can!

Do your characters ever surprise you with their antics? Does it slow down your storytelling, or energize it?
"I will tell you what I have learned.
For me, a long five- or six-mile walk helps.
And one must go alone and every day."
--Brenda Ueland--
My SIL is an amazing artist, and she retires from her deadening job at the end of this week. Look out, world!


  1. OH! I can't wait to see what happens next.

    On a totally different note, I've been toying with writing a novel, but I am extremely stupid when it comes to speaking geek. Is there a certain software (that doesn't cost an arm and a leg) that is better to write it in than another? Or one that is more compatible for an editor to revise and make changes to? Sorry to leave this question here in your comments, but I couldn't find a link to an email for you. Thanks! -J

  2. Wow, a great conversation. What a bomb to drop on the reader.