Do you know it all? I will gladly admit that I don’t. (Contrary to what my husband says.) In most things, I know squat, although I do know how to look things up. I can research with the best of them, baby. And I tend to remember a lot. But if it’s not something I’m interested in at that moment, forget it. I took an online class on PIs earlier this summer and learned a lot of interesting info. Can I remember any of it? Nope. Not one damn thing. I wasn’t working on a PI story at the time. In one ear, out the other (or eye, since it was online.) Luckily though, I saved all the lessons, so when I do get to the point where I’m writing a PI story, I’ll have all that info to absorb like a sponge.
Where was I going with this? Oh, right. Knowing it all.
I was perusing a pubbed authors website earlier today, and in the Q&A section, one of the questions was, Do you know who your villain is when you start your books? The answer was yes, generally, but there have been times when even this author’s been surprised by the outcome of the story.
I thought that was really cool, because I generally don’t know who my villain really is. It’s neat to hear I’m not the only one out there who doesn’t always know how things are going to end up.
Last week I took the prologue of my new book to my local RWA meeting. Since it was a crit meeting, the group got to listen to it, which is told from the villain’s POV. After it was finished, a friend asked, “Why does he want to kill her?” And I went blank.
Weeeeellll…that’s a damn good question!
The answer isn’t so good, however. You see, I have an idea who my villain is, but I’m not one-hundred percent sure. In the last book I wrote, I was completely positive who and why and what my villain was all about. And then at the 3/4 point, I realized there was no WAY the person I’d tagged as the villain could have possibly done all the things I’d thought they could do. Then it hit me – WHAM – who the real villain was. And when I looked back through my previous chapters, sure I was going to have a major rewrite to work the new villain in, I realized I’d instinctively been leaving hints to the real villain all along. I just hadn’t known it. (For more on instincts, check out my post at Romance Worth Killing For today.)
For me, sometimes knowing everything there is to know about my villain takes all the fun out of writing. I can always go back in in revisions and add villain POV scenes if needed to up the tension, but in the initial draft, if I know everything, I have no desire to write the book. I like to learn about my characters – protagonists and antagonists – as I go along. Sometimes they surprise me, sometimes they don’t. But not knowing everything there is to know is pretty fun now and again.
So tell me the truth – and don’t lie. Are you a know-it-all or not?