Writing “Stranger”


I have always known I wanted to be a writer. A published author, more specifically. When I was in high school, I was knee deep in romance books and fan fiction. I didn’t know where to start, so I started writing my own fan fiction. Now, don’t go looking for it because I’ve already deleted the evidence. At the time, fan fiction was fun and entertaining, which is exactly what I wanted to write. But I wanted to add an element of unexpectedness. Something that the audience didn’t see coming. I wanted to tell a gut-wrenching love story about two people who absolutely lose themselves in one another. To love someone so much, that you would do anything for them. Anything.

My first rough draft of Stranger was just that. Rough. The characters didn’t sound like themselves, they sounded like me. It was corny, unbelievable, and didn’t make much sense. I didn’t have the evidence to justify what my main character, Hartley, was doing. It took me years and years of trial and error, and scenes that never made the cut, just to get to where it finally is now. I wrote scenes that had nothing to do with the story itself to place Hartley in a different scenario to get to know her better. And with Jason, he was just as difficult to figure out. It was hard to write a character so closed off, but also had so much personality. Writing those separate scenes with them really helped their development.

When writing in general, I like to draw on my own personal emotions. To me, it’s easier to write about how the characters are feeling if I’ve felt it before. That being said, writing the scenes where Hartley is grieving Jason were probably the hardest to do. It’s easy to imagine what it’s like to love someone, but it’s almost impossible to think about losing them. I’ve experienced loss before, but not like this. Not the kind where you lose the love of your life. I was eighteen when I started Stranger; I didn’t know the first thing about love. So I drowned myself in romance books, TV shows, movies, etc. There is so much media surrounding that subject that after a while, I started to understand it.

As for the scene where Hartley breaks into George’s house and kills him, that was completely out of my element. I wrote and rewrote this scene so many times because I didn’t know if it was going to be believable enough. I wrote it taking place in different locations, and with different people involved. I had to think of the logistics of what would actually have to have for someone to break into someone’s home undetected. I had to think of the security measures said home might have. It all became a little overwhelming having to create a scene without any loopholes. In college, I took this class called Advanced Fiction Writing, and I loved it. Once a week, two students would bring in a short story, we’d critique it, and then keep that cycle going. Eventually when it was my turn, I brought in chapter 36 of Stranger, the one where Hartley kills George. Everyone in the class was extremely helpful, and I was able to smooth out the bumps. I rewrote that scene between twelve to fifteen times. Finally, finally, I was able to read the scene and feel almost giddy. It had the perfect blend of anticipation, nerves, anger, and sadness that I was looking for. As stressful as it was to write this scene, it was also the most fun. I got to experiment with a style of writing I’ve never done before.

All in all, completing my first novel is such an indescribable feeling. To hold the story I’ve worked on for almost a decade in my hands is overwhelming. Stranger was just the beginning for me, and I can’t wait to share more with everyone.

What other scenes do you want me to discuss my writing process about? What questions do you have about Stranger? Reach out to me through the “Contact The Author” page, or email me at brookecochraneinquiries@gmail.com.

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