Nathalie and Gideon.

I envy people who use outlines to write, I really do.   It confuses me, and I want to know where they get such well mannered characters from.    Mine would not follow such directions, they go where they want to, when they want to.

About six weeks ago, I sat down and put fingers to keyboard and started “Clearing of the Way” with a pretty vague idea in my head.   Nathalie, my protagonist, started as a nebulously defined soul, claimed by what she labels as the ‘Dark Man’, the entity who has guided her life as long as long as she can remember.   She came as a rather antisocial type, content in solace, a creature of deeply ingrained habits.   While not fat, I pictured her as well rounded, zaftig, Rubenesque, with a wild mop of dark, wavy hair and wide dark eyes.  Undaunted by ‘fashion’, she dresses as a single phrase in my mind… “a demented kindergarten teacher.”   I see her as wearing a lot of cardigans, striped socks, turtlenecks, all in bright primary colors.   She has the kind of job she doesn’t have to commute for, which allows her to stay at home and avoid people most of the time.  (This settled into research editor).

Gideon, her other half, came as a contradiction.   Crazy.  Homeless.    Tall, thin,graceful, with long dark blond hair.   He doesn’t have a ‘style’, because he wears whatever Nathalie buys him at the local thrift stores.   Although Nathalie is well aware that her relationship with her ‘Dark Man’ is not natural, she views Gideon’s blatant insanity of  talking to God in a less than thrilled light, unwilling to draw the correlation that she also does the same.  Giddy came into being in my mind with a love of oatmeal, and an odd obsession with birthdays.  I didn’t realize then just how much of a foundation that seemingly random snippet would actually turn out to be in the book.   It’s one of those things that really makes me wonder about these, because at the beginning, it seemed like that was just a foible, character color. One more clear symptom that Giddy was not wrapped too tightly.  But now, that obsession is completely integral to the storyline.  Did I know it then?  No.  Or at least I don’t really think so.

This is why I always say I don’t do the writing.  I don’t do outlines, because I don’t know what’s going on until they bother to tell me.   It’s a relationship, a path that I’m led down.

But that was what I had.   One research editor.  One crazy homeless guy.  Both talking to supernatural entities, Nathalie in her dreams and Gideon in the open.  And the end of the world on the horizon.   Not a whole lot, but honestly, I don’t start with a whole lot.   I had all I needed, and let it start… in a city.

Eh, yes.  Well.   City.   I live in a very small rural town in Wisconsin… I am most familiar with Dallas (lived in a suburb of there for awhile) and Chicago, but I don’t like committing to either, since I don’t really know any well enough to write strongly about it.   It finally ended up as New York, why, not entirely sure, but it didn’t want to be Chicago.  And New York is something I know absolutely nothing about.   City, check.  In a snowstorm.   A big one, the kind that close the world down.   Fitting, I felt, for a world about to be torn apart… somehow.  I just wasn’t sure how.

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