21 November 2012

Sometimes it's Magic

by Robert Lopresti

So, what is it like writing fiction? 

Well, mostly it's hard work, that's all.  You have to sit at a desk and think when it would be so much more fun to see what's happening on Facebook or Youtube.  Turning a blank screen into deathless prose isn't easy.

If you're lucky you have a good idea in your head of what you are trying to create.  Then all you have to do is to convert what you see in your head to words that will make the same picture in other people's skulls.  Sometimes it's frustrating, when you can't make that translation.

And sometimes it is tedious.  That's especially true when you really have no idea where a scene is going, but you know it has to be there so you slog through it.  As my character Shanks puts it in one story, "sometimes you just pile the words together like bricks and hope nothing falls off."

All of that is true.  But sometimes...


I have been working on a  novel and the novel has five parts.  When I write a book I start with the sections I know best, hoping that writing them will reveal the parts that are less clear to me.  So I have spent the past month on Part Four.  I finished it and began slogging through Part Three, which I knew much less about.

Well.  Part Three ends with my main character taking a bus back home.    The scene needs to be there but there is no real action in it, so I had to keep the reader in my protagonist's head, letting his thoughts and memories become the action.

And what do you know?  Right at the end, in the very last slogging, brick-after-brick paragraph, my character revealed his motive for everything he is about to do in Part Four.  I didn't even know there was a motive that needed to be revealed, but there it was, waiting for me.  I had written the effect, and suddenly, pow, I was looking at the cause.

So, what is it like writing fiction?

Sometimes, just occasionally, it's goddamned magic.


  1. Rob, I also write novels in the order of what parts intrigue me first, then go back and fill in what else needs to be there. You're right. When it's magic, it's wonderful!

  2. I write chronologically but I often don't know more than 5 pages ahead. You have to trust the Muse!

  3. I can't wait to read this book, Rob! I know what you mean. This is why, although I outline the bejeebers out of my books, once I start writing an actual scene and the real guts of the novel suddenly begin to be revealed, the outline may as well be tossed out the window. How I love that magic! May you enjoy many more moments of it.

  4. Great point, Rob. Gotta love it when magic changes that pile of bricks into a living thing!

  5. Yeah, there's magic sometimes! And I second or third what Leigh said! Damn fine! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. I couldn't agree more! Some days everything just falls together. :)


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