On the bus into work today my brain was going into overdrive. I know how the book is going to end and I know what's going to happen in the next one. I know where every character is going to be at the end of the final chapter and I know where they're going to go in the first of the second book.
Anyway, I was on Warren Ellis' website and he linked to this interview with William Gibson (http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6089/the-art-of-fiction-no-211-william-gibson) and I thought you might find it interesting, I did:
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How do you begin a novel?
I have to write an opening sentence. I think with one exception I've never changed an opening sentence after a book was completed.
You won't have planned beyond that one sentence?
No. I don't begin a novel with a shopping list—the novel becomes my shopping list as I write it. It's like that joke about the violin maker who was asked how he made a violin and answered that he started with a piece of wood and removed everything that wasn't a violin. That's what I do when I'm writing a novel, except somehow I'm simultaneously generating the wood as I'm carving it.
E. M. Forster's idea has always stuck with me—that a writer who's fully in control of the characters hasn't even started to do the work. I've never had any direct fictional input, that I know of, from dreams, but when I'm working optimally I'm in the equivalent of an ongoing lucid dream. That gives me my story, but it also leaves me devoid of much theoretical or philosophical rationale for why the story winds up as it does on the page. The sort of narratives I don't trust, as a reader, smell of homework.
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I think I'll respond to that thought process when I'm home, it's bloody fascinating though.