I often feel that my characters are already there, even before I begin writing. My job is to tune in to them, as if I'm fiddling with a radio dial to get a clear signal. Like a radio, I become a conduit through which my characters' voices travel from there to here.
Occasionally a scene seems to be just waiting for me to catch it. It coalesces when I first wake up in the morning, or maybe in the middle of the night, and I scramble to comprehend it and scribble it down before it vanishes. Then, as time goes on, I have to figure out where it belongs in the story. Sometimes that's a puzzle.
When I was writing Seeking the Center, one of the last scenes in the story came to me very early on, and I thought I had the ending all figured out. But as I continued writing, I began to realize that I was wrong, and things ended up very differently than I had initially thought they would.
The scene itself remained, though, as it still does in the final version - the core of it almost exactly as I first wrote it down. What no longer made sense for one character, made perfect sense for another.
I have wondered what happened in the interim. Did my characters purposefully defy my expectations? Was I - perhaps subconsciously - trying to use them to further some hidden agenda of my own, and they rebelled? Or did I just not know them as well as I thought I did?
Maybe it was just a faulty radio.