Know the iceberg, write the tip

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Early on in my journey of becoming an author, I had seen the subject line of this post in many places, and at many unconventional times. While I spent months convincing myself I could write a captivating story, this line would play over and over in my brain. On the surface (pun intended), this concept seemed simple enough, but the further I dove into my writing, the more profound the statement became. I would not know why until I was in the middle of writing my second novel.

I am what the writing community refers to as a ‘pantser’. I do not spend countless hours creating an outline for the story I am about to write. I simply sit at the computer and wait for the words to come, writing with reckless abandon and telling the story that the voices in my head want me to tell.

After reading the words I had written in book number two, I soon realized my characters were only sharing the bare minimum about themselves when it came to their physical attributes and backgrounds. In my head, I had filled in many of the blanks based on the way I saw them, but I want my readers to have the ability to do the same thing. Perhaps the iceberg they imagine under the surface of my characters is quite different from how I see it. That, to me, is the biggest joy of reading a book. I don’t want to be told every detail. Sure, I want the narrative to take me on the journey I was meant to follow, but I love having the opportunity to see the characters in the story the way I see them, and not have every element of the adventure handed to me on a silver platter.

I know every nuance of the icebergs that lend their support to each of my protagonists and antagonists, and all the other support characters who add their spices to the tales I am telling. But like every good recipe, there is always an opportunity to change a few ingredients to make the dish your own. I want to feed my readers an exceptional story, but I also want to give them the chance to add a few spices to give the novel a more personal feel. The tip is the meat of the story. The iceberg is the collection of side dishes waiting to be added to suit their individual tastes.

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