What’s It Like to Write?

My doctor asked me about this because he was interested. He got me interested, too. How can I explain what I actually do, and what it’s like to do it?

My task is a simple one. I make up a world that doesn’t exist and persuade readers to imagine they are there. I invent fictitious characters and get readers to respond to them as if they were real people.  I make up events, based on real events I’ve found in the Bible or studied in history, and persuade readers that these events occurred.

Well, all right–not really! No one actually believes the stories that I write. But they can believe them for a little while: like the way you can let go when you’re watching a movie, and let the audio and the visuals just carry you along.

I try to make reading my book to be like watching a movie, to make the experience for the reader as effortless as possible. To do this, I choose every word based on how it interacts with other words and makes the sentence flow. Too much of that can be annoying; not enough, and it reminds the reader that he’s only reading words on a page. I know I’ve succeeded when a reader tells me, “Reading your books is like watching movies.”

For the story to work, I have to get myself into a frame of mind that’s not always easy to achieve. Sometimes it can only be achieved while I’m asleep. You’d be surprised how many scenes and incidents in my books started out as dreams. Some of the characters, too. Sometimes it can be achieved when I’m doing something else. The whole climax to The Fugitive Prince came to me as I was walking down the street to the Chinese restaurant. Just pow! There it was. All I had to do was write it.

This is a little hard to explain, but I feel–not ideate, but feel–that I have actually been to the world of Obann and seen it with my own eyes. How else can I write about it? If I don’t see it, I won’t be able to make the reader see it. I’ve been to Lintum Forest, with my feet rustling in the leaves. I’ve been in the labyrinth of tunnels under Obann City. Again, not really. But I don’t see how you can write fantasy at all, without ramping up your imagination to a certain high level–although I have read, alas, all too many fantasies in which no imagination was employed at all.

I may return to this subject later, if any of you out there are interested. I hope it’s good weather tomorrow, so I can take up my legal pad, out there with the birds and breezes, and ask the Lord to give me more of the story, and to help me tell it.

8 comments on “What’s It Like to Write?

  1. Sometimes I’m surprised at how quickly a situation is resolved – like when Jack and Ellayne set out to find the cellar beneath the cellar, it didn’t take all the way through to the end of the book to find it. There are always several mini stories going on at the same time, which makes the anticipation mount and keeps interest peaked – even after the last words of the book are read.

    1. They’re wonderful just as you write them 🙂 Even the endings don’t leave too many loose ends – just enough to really want to read the next one! In fact, I’m still waiting to be able to purchase the remaining books – so far, I’ve read 1 – 5.

    2. I’m working on #10 now, and I have no idea where the story will take me. But if there weren’t any of those loose ends, it would be mighty hard to connect #10 to #9.

    3. But you do have a wonderful way of bringing the loose ends to a conclusion while weaving new characters and adventures in.

      Whoever hasn’t read any of Lee’s books, you’re in for a real treat if you decide to. But let me recommend that you start at the beginning with Bell Mountain. It’s really quite something how he manages to bring us to the summit of Bell Mountain, back down again and on to so many more characters and adventures, while holding true to the main characters and story. And throughout, he keeps you wanting more!

      As someone who usually prefers non-fiction, Lee’s series was a wonderful surprise – and a real respite from the ills of this world. Happy reading everyone!

  2. Beautifully put, Lee 🙂 I feel the same way about writing; I just hope I do it well enough that people can experience what I’ve experienced.

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