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  • chandlermcgrew

I Just Keep Going Weird Places...

Ever since I started writing I struggled to 'outline'. It was torture for me. I could never seem to figure out how to get from point a to point b and had no clue why that was so difficult for me when the characters and dilemmas came so much more easily. I told one of my editors once that, for me, outlining was like a skeleton, and then writing became draping skin over the skeleton.

I could make it move. But it was never going to breathe.

So, I gave myself up to my characters and let THEM tell ME the story.

The thing was, my editor agents, and readers all seemed to love them!

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Stephen King doesn't outline. I was so happy when I read how he excavates his stories, digging out a little more with every page until the whole tale lays bare. Then to hear another of my heroes, Dean Koontz, and finally Neil Gaiman say basically the same thing?

A weight off.

Crossroads, for instance, started with the notion that I wanted to write a story involving a fast-vanishing culture in America, the Carney.

Like most of my generation I grew up around carnivals, and I viewed them from the same stance as all townies. They were entertaining, interesting, but also sketchy and probably all not that honest, even dangerous.

So, I took on Crossroads from the viewpoint of the Carneys instead. And not just any Carneys, but a young girl with an invisible but talented friend and mentor.

That was all I really knew about the story while staring at a blank page one. But, like most of my books, I knew they were about to get into a lot of bad trouble real fast...

And so, they do. Along with some other old, retired Carneys, a troubled young woman who speaks to dead people (including the ghost of her mother who really wants to move to California) and finally an Empty-Eyed Man to fill out the cast.

By the time I wrote the final page I was as delighted as my readers to get there. If you get a chance pick up a copy and let me know what you think.

See you soon.

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