New Book in Progress: “Illusion Of Certainty”

I am now working on my third novel which will be called the “Illusion Of Certainty.”  To explain the title, I wrote the following in a prologue:

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” John Allen Paulos

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not know what comes next.” Ursula K. LeGuin

“Most of us try to carefully monitor and control the events of our life.  It has never seemed easier.  Or so we think.  We have so many electronic tools to coordinate our schedules, instantly stay in touch, book restaurant reservations, buy movie tickets, buy books, buy furniture, buy clothes, pay bills, do banking and stay on top of the pieces of our daily existence.

It makes us feel like we are in control.  It makes us think we know what our children, co-workers, spouses and friends are doing.  Then something happens that we do not expect.

There is a serious illness or a death.  There is the loss of a job or an economic downturn. People and events behave in ways we did not expect.   Suddenly we think there is uncertainty introduced into our well-ordered world.

But what we fail to recognize is that the uncertainty has been there all the time.”

It is exciting to be involved in the “process” again.  I enjoy the evolution of the storyline and the characters.  There are some really interesting steps necessary before you start writing–the definition of the characters.  You really must decided a key question — “who are these people?”

I have found that I must sit down and define a profile for each character. As a first step the following must be outlined for each character:

  • What is their name?
  • How old is this character?
  • Are they married?
  • Where do they live? Where have they lived?
  • What past relationships have they had? Are their boyfriends or girlfriends from the past? Are they divorced?  If they are divorced, what happened?
  • What is their job?
  • Where did they go to college?
  • Who do they work for?
  • What do they look like?
  • Do they have children?  What are their names and how old are they?
  • When is their birthday?
  • What in their background would influence their motivations and reactions?

This may seem like a lot of detail.  However, in my experience with writing novels, at some point you will hit the wall in your writing until some of these decisions are made.

Certainly characters will evolve.  I haven’t written a book yet where new characters emerged as I got into the story.  That is part of the creative process and it is one of the things I relish about writing.  However, there needs to be detailed character sketches of those who’s lives the story will touch.

The plot of my new book is beginning to come together.  There is a long way to go.  But I do know “who” will be the characters that populate the world I am creating.

I would be interested if others follow the same process I have found so important.


About gregmessel

I've written six novels and am working on a seventh. My first three novels were "Expiation," "Sunbreaks" and "The Illusion of Certainty." I'm now working on a series of mysteries set in San Francisco in the 1950s. In 2008, I retired from corporate life and so I can spend more time writing. I spent over ten years in the newspaper business. I now live on Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, just north of downtown Seattle.
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