Yesterday, that tingling feeling cascaded down from the crown of my head to my toes again while I was writing. One character in particular had triggered this wonderful cascade. This sensation tells me each time I’ve experienced it that I’ve had a creative breakthrough of some sort and what I’ve learned is absolutely right. I feel the rightness viscerally — that tingling feeling — bypassing my brain.
I had not done my usual character prep work on the triggering character – she’s new to the Perceval books — as an experiment. I wanted to discover her as I wrote. I usually discover additional personality traits and backstory anyway as I write the characters I’ve done prep for, but this was like snorkeling in unfamiliar waters. I had begun the third book, in which she appears, with certain ideas about her, most of which have remained. But the thing that changed was a piece of backstory, i.e. who her father was. I had thought he was a security operative. Yesterday, while writing a scene between her and Evan Quinn, it suddenly hit me — the security operative wasn’t her father. No. Her father was a high-ranking politician in her home country (not America). And Evan had had an encounter with her father in book 1 that would cause her to hate Evan. Oh, my. I had just deepened her motivation for her behavior toward Evan and complicated his life. I love it when that happens. I’ve learned it can’t be forced or predicted or planned. It happens when it happens and I need to be open everyday to it.
On book 1, I had a huge breakthrough after writing 9 or 10 drafts and I’d written a rough draft screenplay to solve structure problems. Suddenly, the relationship between Evan and Vasia Bartyakov changed toward the end of the book in a way I hadn’t anticipated at all. My imagination just thrust it onto the page. I was shocked, upset. I couldn’t continue writing that day. But I had that tingling feeling again. I knew my imagination was right. When I returned to that chapter the next day, I ran with the change. As I worked on book 2, I realized that change in their relationship would haunt Evan’s life for the rest of the series and give his development momentum.
I now call my imagination “The Tingler.” Unlike the horror movie monster of the same or similar name, I have nothing to fear from this Tingler…..