I’ve finally written the prologue for the December Book. With only occasional variation, I usually write stories (of whatever length) in a very linear way. I start at the beginning and, with only the occasional diversion, keep going until I discover how it ends.
The December Book has always had a prologue. I’ve always known it was there, always known who featured in it, and always known how it played out. When I started the book though, I knew there was no way I was qualified to write it.
You see, the prologue is set more than thirty years after the main events of the novel, and reunites two key players in the events that unfold. They’re older, maybe even wiser, than their younger selves – evolutions of the characters I’m spending most of my time writing. That’s why I couldn’t write it. While other authors might be able to grasp the ins and outs of their characters at the planning stage, it never works like that for me. I get to know my characters by spending time with them, the same way I get to know anybody else.
That I’ve now spent enough time with this pair that I’m able to project them thirty years into the future, changed forever by the main events I’m writing about, gives me a happy, confident feeling about the book. This is a good thing, because it’s about to visit some very dark places, and trusting the characters to just be themselves (instead of being my literary puppets) will make all the difference as we proceed.