Where Does the Road End?

Do you remember Sunday drives?  Way back in the days of big cars and low gas prices, my parents used to pack the family into our Chevy Biscayne and off we’d go exploring. Now I’m sure my father had a route in mind, but to me it always seemed like a spontaneous journey with adventure waiting around every turn.  If we were coming up on a road and I asked, “Dad, where’s that lead?” he’d say “I don’t know, let’s find out,” and off we’d go on what seemed like a shiny quest—where does the road end?

My characters tend to be like that when I’m writing. I often don’t know how they’re going to respond if I put them in a given situation. I’m a panster when it comes to plotting so I never have a clear vision of where the road ends. Sure, I’ve got a vague idea (otherwise I wouldn’t have started the story in the first place) and I know some of the twists and turns along the way, but the path is never clearly defined. Like the roads on those long-ago Sunday drives, it’s an adventure, dictated by my characters. They control the steering wheel. Sometimes I’ll dangle a plot twist and ask “where does that lead?”  My characters, like my father, will answer “I don’t know, let’s find out,” and I’m racing ahead on that same shiny quest of adventure.

I treasure the memory of Sunday drives. A little of that whimsy makes its way into everything I write. After all, what is a story without wondering where the road ends?

10 thoughts on “Where Does the Road End?

  1. We did Sunday drives too! Those are some of my fondest memories. 🙂

    I’m more of a plotter than a pantser, but sometimes my characters are the ones dangling plot twists part way through and I let them take the lead.

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    • My dear critique partner of many years was a stictler for plotting, but even she found herself being lead by her characters in twists she didn’t expect, LOL. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who has fond memories of Sunday drives!

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  2. I’m with you Mae! I’m a pantser too and love not knowing where the road ends. It makes writing so much more fun! Great post!

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      • Hi, Sheri. Seems a lot of writers are pansters! 🙂 As for Sunday drives, sometimes I wish I could spin back the clock and have that luxury again. Talk about a relaxing way to unwind on a Sunday!

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    • Thanks, Jennifer. And I’m glad to know I’m not alone. When I try to outline and plot, I normally hit a brick wall and freeze up. I’m much better winging it when I write!

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  3. Pantser here, too! Man, Sunday family rides! Funny, I haven’t thought about those in a long time. I wonder if this family tradition is completely a thing of the past. I hope not. Being a kid in the back of that car (okay, I’ll admit sometimes feeling like I wanted to be any place else but there) was a big part of my life. I wonder if all that looking out at the world triggered my need to put what I see of the world into into words now. Hmm? Maybe.

    I like this analogy, Mae!! A lot! Of being an observer in the back seat– and my characters and story taking me on long ride somewhere! Love it! Another great thought-provoking post, my friend!

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    • Oh, I hope Sunday drives aren’t a thing of the past, but I fear they’re fading away. So sad. I think you’re right that they did inspire a love for imagining and playing out those scenarios in words. Even now, when I’m driving around and come across a particularly striking setting, I’m always thinking “what if . . .”

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