Subconscious Author

Authors talk about the Internal Editor all the time, but they don’t often talk about their Subconscious Author. This post by Lisa Schroeder got me thinking . . . does every writer have a Subconscious Author? I would think we all do, but I’m not sure.

I guess it would help to define what I mean by Subconscious Author (SA). This is the force that makes you add a plot point, or detail without knowing why. In Lisa’s post, she mentioned making a conscious choice to include a certain element into her story. She wasn’t sure how it would work, but knew she wanted it in there. I’ve done that too, and then figured out a way to make it work, but I consider this to be my Conscious Author (CA). The SA makes you put things into your story without any clue why or how it will work out or if it will work out (though it usually does). If someone were to ask you why the element/plot point/detail was there, you couldn’t give an answer other than, “I think it’s cool” or “I want it there” or “It just is” or some other lame reason.

For example, in my current WIP, I assigned eye colors to my characters. I didn’t know why, but they had to be certain colors . . . not just the main characters, but the minor ones too. While my CA didn’t worry about it, my SA mulled it over, worked it out, and determined the reason. During the rewrite, I discovered this reason. Sometimes I think my SA does more work on my novel than my CA does.

There are other examples as well . . . little plot elements that didn’t make sense, but had to be there . . . but if I share them, it will give things away. I’m always so excited when I discover why the element/detail had to be there and how it all comes together to make the book stronger, or add a twist. I wonder if this is how other authors work . . . especially when planning a series. Maybe a little detail the author threw into the first book because the SA author said to ended up being important and came to play a larger role in a sequel . . . even though the author didn’t plan it that way.

I’m a plot driven author, and I get a plot idea before I get my character idea. But I know there are character driven authors out there too, and I wonder if their SA works differently than my own.

What about you? Do you have a SA inserting little things into your WIP for your CA to discover later?


Write on (no matter how you do it . . . just do it).

About Joan Stradling, Author

Joan Stradling is a middle grade and YA author of stories with magical elements. She loves painting, baking, crafting, pet wrangling, and anything else she can fit into her schedule. A passionate believer in the power of books, she still hopes to one day ride a dragon, meet a Hobbit, or discover new worlds by walking through a wardrobe. In the meantime, she imagines and writes about her own incredible worlds and characters–and continues to live vicariously through the adventures in other’s books. You can find her on Instagram (@JoanStradlingAuthor) or Twitter (@justJoanS) or FB (Joan Stradling aka Joan Stewart) Join me on Patreon:
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