As a parent, one of our jobs is to lead and guide our children safely from childhood to adulthood. In addition to all the love and support we give them, occasionally they may need a swift pop to their little bottoms or time out or maybe even grounding for the older ones. And then sometimes, no matter how hard we try, they just won’t do what we want them to do.
Writers face the same problem with their characters. Sometimes our little loves just want to misbehave. They refuse to do what we ask them to do. They go off in a different direction than what we intended. But the difference between parenting a child and parenting a character is sometimes us writers have to let them go. Let them do what they want, go where they want, say what they want. It makes for a much better story if the characters have control. You’re just the vehicle they’re using to tell their story.
While writing “Wink of an Eye”, I ran into a situation where Gypsy (of course, the troublemaker) wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do. The scene was supposed to be super sexy hot (because he’s that kind of guy!) but it kept coming out funny…laugh out loud funny. I rewrote, deleted, rewrote, deleted, etc…until I was ready to send him straight to time out. With no supper. And no Ipad. And then a friend in my critique group (thanks Robin!) said something very profound. She said the woman in the scene with Gypsy, Sophia, wasn’t his Kathleen Turner Body Heat lover. Claire was. And Gypsy knew it all along. I just wouldn’t listen to him. So he has a really hot sexy scene with Claire, and a laugh out loud sexy scene with Sophia. He’s such a bad boy.
I treasure my playlists more than my tattered, dog-eared Roget’s Thesaurus. Why? My playlist puts me there, where I need to be when I’m writing. If I’m not there, I can’t expect the reader to be. Some writers need silence. No distractions. Some need the crackle of a television. Background noise. I need a soundtrack of carefully chosen songs that convey the mood, emotion, and action of the scenes in my head. Only when they’re matched with that perfect song, do the scenes find their way to paper (or the keyboard). I may only have five songs in a particular playlist but I play them on a loop so I’m always there.
I wrote a very dramatic, pivotal scene yesterday. With the television on—it was a The Walking Dead marathon! I thought I did okay with the television, rather than my playlist, on in the background. Until I re-read the scene today. Way over the top melodramatic! I laughed out loud. It came no where even close to conveying the emotions I wanted conveyed. It read like a bad, really bad, bodice-ripping romance. And it’s in the suspense genre, not romance!
I deleted most of the scene, tuned in to my playlist and re-worked it. Thanks to Maroon 5’s Come Away to the Water for taking me there.
Leg bone? Ankle bone? And probably Twitter and Facebook somehow.
Connecting everything was a job! You can now access my Facebook page, Twitter page, and blog from my website. This is a good thing. I think.
Several years ago I went to Disney World with my daughter and son-in-law. We stayed at one of the hotels on the Disney compound. Everything was peachy at Disney World, their hotel, their compound. The outside world didn’t exist. Literally. I turned the television on in the room and it was set to the Disney channel. No matter how many times you pressed the channel up or down button, you had no choice but to watch the Disney channel. Outside the lobby, there were no newspaper racks with various newspapers from around the area, country, or world. Because you were at Disney World. You had no need for “other” news.
Only a writer can see a conspiracy at the happiest place on earth (or is that the circus?). But as a United States citizen, I had the right to hear, read, see what ever news I wanted. You don’t realize the truth of that until the freedom to do so is taken away.
Writers, especially writers, should embrace our country’s freedom. We have the right to write whatever the muse leads us to write. People died to give us that right. I appreciate their sacrifice.
Lynn C Willis – Fiction Writer: Birthing characters: Remember that famous scene from that little movie “Gone with the Wind”? Butterfly McQueen cries out I don’t know how to birth no baby! It’s …
Remember that famous scene from that little movie “Gone with the Wind”? Butterfly McQueen cries out I don’t know how to birth no baby! It’s easy. I’ve been doing it all day with the help of Pinterest. A few days ago, I pinned pictures of the setting for my current WIP (work in progress). Today I chose the music for the playlist I’ll have playing in the background while I work on said WIP. And lastly, I pinned images of the two main characters. I birthed character babies!
Now if I can only talk John Hamm into playing my main male character in the movie version, I’ll be set. Wish me luck on that one!
We’ve had this on-going argument over the size of the twins. Everyone, and I mean everyone, said Casey had passed Ireland in weight, length, general size, etc…and now, being the last born, Ireland was a true runt. “Casey’s a chunker!” people were known to say. “He’s twice her size,” others said. “He’s a lot bigger than she is now,” still others said. I think I said all three of these statements at one time or another or some variation of such. Everyone said this, except their mother Nina. She stood fast and steady that Ireland was still bigger although you could look at them side by side and see how much bigger Casey was than his “baby” sister. She just didn’t want to admit the truth.
Well, today was their four-month check up and yesterday, in preparation, I jokingly told Nina I’d bet her money Casey was going to be bigger than Ireland. I made her promise to call the second she got out of the doctor’s office.
|Ireland’s happy she’s still in the lead
|Betcha next checkup, Casey will take the lead
Ireland, the little chub, is a half pound heavier and half an inch longer than her older brother. Maybe it’s because Casey’s bald as a cue ball, does have a bigger head than Ireland, has that triple chin thing going, and eyes the size of small plates…he looks bigger. Whatever the reason, his mom knew which of her babies was bigger. Despite everyone else telling her she was wrong.
Lynn C Willis – Fiction Writer: Twin Telepathy: Still waiting on that “twin telepathy” thing to kick in. The twins, Casey and Ireland, are three-months old now and so far, nada. I don’t th…
Still waiting on that “twin telepathy” thing to kick in. The twins, Casey and Ireland, are three-months old now and so far, nada. I don’t think they really even like each other. Of course they’re still doing a lot of that head-bobbing thing so you can’t tell if they’re ignoring one another or just not “bobbing” in the same direction. I do think Ireland likes Casey more than Casey likes Ireland. If you lay them side-by-side, Ireland will lick Casey’s hand if he flays his arm in that direction. Don’t know if she actually likes him or if she’s hungry. And they do cry together, sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. Could be because they’re on the same schedule and want to eat at the same time? Or could it be that “twin telepathy” developing?
Nina with Casey (left) and Ireland (right). Yes, Ireland’s wearing one of Casey’s blue sleepers. She licks him and wears his clothes. Typical annoying little sister, even if it is by only twenty minutes.
There was an interesting question posed today on WeBooks about how bad could your characters be before crossing the line to being too bad. After all, no one is perfect and your fictional characters shouldn’t be either.
Many many years ago I went out with a man that was super nice. He was sooooo nice and pleasant, a fine gentleman if ever indeed. And boring. I don’t mean just boring. I mean yawn-inducing, can’t keep my eyes open, will you please just SHUT UP boring. He drove me nuts! I went out with him a couple times until I finally just couldn’t take it anymore.
Was I secretly yearning for a Brando’ish “The Wild One”? No. Maybe just a happy medium.
So how bad is too bad? How bad can you make your character before your reader raises an eyebrow? You can make ’em bad as can be – but – they must have clear motivation, and show some sign of vulnerability.
* Motivation: What makes your character act the way he/she does? Why did he rob that bank? Was it to feed his five hungry kids at home? Or was it to take his trashy girlfriend to Disney World? Or maybe it was because he thrived on the excitement. Once you convey to your readers why your character acts the way he/she does, they too, can understand why a character acts in a certain way. They may even end up liking the bad guy a little more.
* Vulnerability: Even Dracula had his vulnerabilities. Find your character’s weak spot and exploit it. Bring him to his knees. In other words, make him human. Even cold blooded killers have a weak spot. It’s up to you, the writer, to bring it to your readers’ attention.