The Problem With “Hurricanes” Or… Unforeseeable Events in Plots

So, first, let me just tell you the backstory of the “hurricane.” When Shane and I first started dating, I was writing Whispers of the Skyborne, and he was writing what is now going to be Book 3 of his political thriller series. In his eyes, at the time, I was this super cool author who had multiple books published, had won awards, was selling books, and knew what she was doing. So, he was a bit surprised when I threw off my headphones after a writing session and had a mini-tantrum – Don’t judge – because the scene I had been geared up to write didn’t happen.

“Why not?” he asked, standing in my living room about to hand me the coffee he’d just made for me.

I took the coffee and glared into the dark liquid. “A hurricane came in and grounded all of our planes.”

A shocked look entered his green eyes as he stared at me like I’d just lost my mind. “Um, aren’t the author?”

I had no idea what he was even trying to get at because he was an author too. “Yeah. I had no idea it was coming!”

“How–” He paused and raised the one eyebrow with the fly-away hairs that made him look slightly Romulan. “–did you not know? Aren’t you the author?

That conversation let me see what some people – and some authors – think happens in the author world. You think I have everything mapped out and planned, or that I’m, at the very least, in control of what happens in my world.

Step Into My Brain

I never truly understood that not all authors have big worlds. They write what they see or hear and that’s it.

I have entire solar systems and worlds going on inside my head with thousands of stories growing in different regions, on different planets and ships and systems, all the time. If I ever get bored, I pick up my crochet and escape to one of these worlds. The thing I sometimes struggle with is keeping the story simplified enough to share.

Let me show you. My book worlds are stored in my mind cave with a long tunnel with doors on either side. Some are normal doors, some with locks, some without. Those are ideas or memories or just junk files. I’ve even got an entire room of junk drawers with tidbits of information I will never remember.

But some of those doors shine with different colored lights and they hum. The Devices of War door glows red and has a war-drum heartbeat. The Dreamland door is this weird kinda purply-blue color and it sings. The Whiskey-verse door is blue and it has this mid-range pitch that modulates, like someone’s chanting.

When we go inside, the first thing you see is a bunch of settings – kinda like a movie set, I think – in cloud portals because, currently, I’m in a bunch of different scenes in a bunch of different places with different characters at different times, which is kinda throwing me off a little. Shane is still finishing up Eye of the Saber which occurs four months before Breaking Whiskey, which I’m also wrapping up. So, two time-lines, same characters.

Let’s step into the latest “hurricane” situation that had me in literal tears for two days straight. Stepping through one of these cloud portals, we land on a brown landscape overlooking a shallow canyon with some rocky outcrops in the middle where the canyon widens and shallows out. Until I start writing, the time fluctuates. There’s a battle going on. There are fields of corn behind me. There’s a small town flourishing. There’s a bomb blasting me off my feet. Walton’s winning. He’s about to lose. Mason’s dying. He’s playing with the kids down a street that hasn’t been built yet. I can see that here. It’s all happening at the same time.

Write Time

When I settle down to write, the timeline calms down and I’m able to see what’s going on here and now, in the time I chose. I speed it up to get to the fun part. I back it up if something doesn’t quite make sense. In this instance, I can sense Colorado behind me and that Denver is now a wasteland. I can sense President Walton in front of me many, many miles away in D.C. and he’s made a crappy decision. I can sense Emma further away and to my left kinda. I can tell that the kids are at home behind me, again, miles and miles away. And I can sense that something bad is about to happen – the event I closely plotted.

But as I sit down to write this scene – which is a super horrible scene that turned out to be much bigger (though how did I not realize it was going to be so much bigger? I don’t know) – something unexpected happened. A key character whom I love dearly fought hard…

…and died.

She evaporated right in front of my eyes. Here I am, in Paige’s POV, watching this with her and I can’t… believe my eyes. Like, there’s no way that just happened. I’m the author. I have all these amazing powers. I’ve created this world, the timeline, the events. I created the characters, gave them goals and motivations, quirks and weaknesses. I should have known this character would die. My plan had been that she would fight and be weakened and then lose her spirit animal. That’s what was supposed to happen. The question would have been then if she would have gotten another shifter spirit after it was such a fight for Paige to get a second one. The answer would have been no, by the way. I talked to the ancients at great length. They weren’t going to allow that to happen.

All that work, all that planning and negotiations, and… she died.

Effects Of Hurricanes On Plots

This, of course, had a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge impact on the outline I had for this book. I didn’t write what anyone would call a detailed outline to begin with. I basically had the beats I wanted to hit and occassionally put little descriptors like, “Walton shows he’s a raging d—bag” or “Leah does something heroic.” As far as outlines go, this one has been the least helpful.

While the structure of this book has been a little willy-nilly, I really and truly think that it’s more organic, which… for the heaviness of this plot, I think was needed.

Thanks For Stopping By!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this insight into how my mind works. Be sure to grab your copy of Eye of the Saber which is set to release in April. Breaking Whiskey which includes this particular hurricane scene will follow in May.

Happy reading!

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