Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Nodes" and Potential Story Connections

February 2015
"I discovered that if I trusted my subconscious, or imagination, whatever you want to call it, and if I made the characters as real and honest as I could, then no matter how complex the pattern being woven, my subconscious would find ways to tie it together--often doing things far more complicated and sophisticated than I could with brute conscious effort. I would have ideas for 'nodes,' as I think of them--story or character details that have lots of potential connections to other such nodes--and even though I didn't quite understand, I would plunk them in. Two hundred pages later, everything would back-fit, and I'd say, 'Ah, that's why I wrote that.'" --Tad Williams

Do you trust your imagination to come through for you in your writing? Have you ever experienced an "ah-ha" moment when an unexpected but welcomed detail bubbled up from your subconscious and surprised you, making you ask where did that come from? Doesn't it make you want to push through to the end of that first draft in order to see how all those "nodes" connect?

There's hope in the midst of the pain of a first draft. Just look for the gift of the nodes and trust they will eventually connect to build a commanding story!


  1. Interesting. I do have those "ah-ha" moments but I've never felt it was imagination per se, but more like me sifting through all the bits of my experiences and piecing them together in ways that will fit my story. Is that imagination? Not sure. It certainly does involve the subconscious, though. Otherwise, why would I wake up in the morning with a solution to last night's problem?

    Very interesting post. And that photo has really got me wondering - what is it anyway?

  2. I have had "aha" moments in a story or book when I realized what had developed from something I put in earlier, but not quite the way he describes. I really like the way his process works.

  3. Peggy, I'm sure it can be argued how the subconscious and imagination are different, but whatever it is, it's still such fun to wake up to those unexpected gems. Glad you have those experiences, too. And thanks for asking about the photo--it's a picture of an ice formation on the top of a trellis we could see out our porch room window. I thought it was pretty neat, like an ice sculpture, so I reached for my camera. Ironically, just hours after I snapped the picture, an avalanche of snow slid off the roof and tore out the whole gutter on that side of the house. The gutter hit the trellis and broke it all apart! Won't get that picture again...

    Elizabeth, what fun when something clicks like that--thanks for sharing!

    1. I'd never have guessed that was a trellis! Makes the point of how often we "see without really seeing."

  4. I love this concept. I actually enjoy writing the rough draft more than any part of birthing a book. Your mind is free to go anyplace you allow it to go.I am always amazed at what is uncovered. :)

  5. Terri, I'm finding myself amazed at some of the things being uncovered in my draft, too. You're right, it is an enjoyable stage--if we don't burden ourselves down with doubts as we go. Just got to plow through and expect surprises will come! Thanks for stopping by...

  6. I do trust it, but then sometimes I second guess things too much. This is where my critique partners have been a big help. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. Karen, such a good point. Our critique friends are vital in helping us see what works and what doesn't. I'm so thankful for my writing group. Very special ladies... :-)