In the beginning it was just “when the elder G. asks him about his plans to leave, Tom demurs.”
That’s all it was. A half line in Draft 0. Thirteen words in all. I thought it would be a very tiny scene, little more than a transition, a little coda to establish that Tom wasn’t leaving after all.
Then on Saturday morning…
I was spending the weekend, together with my mother, at the house of an aunt I seldom see. There were vague plans for the day, that we abandoned because of a rather persistent deluge. So, while Mother and Aunt R. happily chattered away, I curled up in an armchair with a cup of tea and my notebook, and began to make detailed plans for the next few scenes ahead. The first in line happened to be Scene 34, the small transition with the elder G.
And as I began to make notes for it… It was like pouring hot water on instant coffee: all of a sudden, the thirteen words changed colour, acquired a scent, a texture – and rather changed in nature.
Couldn’t I put Scene 34 to better use? Could I show that all are not overjoyed when Tom doesn’t leave? Of course I could – but then is it really the elder G.? No, after all. Who would be there instead – to meaningfully show some suspicion? And why can’t the suspicion be mutual? And, going back to the elder G., do I really need him in the book at all?
And so on, and so on, for several notebook pages. So, when I came back home, and began to write on Monday, Scene 34 was very much ready to blossom. Yes, yes, an entirely different metaphor, I know – but the fact is, the half line in Draft 0 is now a 1300 words scene in Draft 1, that not only establishes that Tom isn’t leaving but also that, by deciding to stay, he puts himself further in harm’s way, with potentially dire consequences down the road. Besides, the dynamic between two other characters is now brought in sharper relief, there is some useful foreshadowing, a suspicion that someone may not be the way they seem, and Tom thinks he’s made a discovery – which ties very nicely to something I have planned for the one-but-last chapter.
So yes, Saturday’s rain brought on a very nice growth in the plot, in a way I love inordinately. It may well be one of my favourite facets of the writing process, when a seemingly small thing turns out to be important and meaningful the moment you pour hot water and stir.
And this is just Draft 1, after all: who knows what else may crop up in Scene 34 by the time I’m finished?