January 14, 2015
Everyone’s heard of writer’s block.
Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary defines it as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.”
That would lead one to believe the blockage inhibiting the book from being written is all the author’s fault. I beg to differ. It’s those darned characters who won’t do as I tell them to do that’s the issue here. Not me. I’m perfectly fine thank you very much with absolutely no psychological problems at all. Well, don’t talk to my kids about this, they might have other opinions on their crazy mother, but I digress.
It’s the characters who are crazy, I tell you. Them.
In the romantic suspense I am working on right now, the hero is an aviation swimmer for the US Coast Guard in Sitka, Alaska. He’s strong, good-looking with a big heart, and willingly puts his life on the line every time he jumps from the helo into the water to save victims in the treacherous waters off Alaska. The heroine is feisty, intelligent, a rock star assistant D.A. in New York and is, of course, beautiful. Both of them are lonely. Both of them grieving and in need of comfort. They are made for each other, because I made them.
The first night when they are supposed to meet, he is at her door ready to knock. It’s pouring rain. Cold. Only the lamps from the courtyard illuminate his dripping figure. He raises his fist and…nothing. He just stands there. Like he’s frozen. A blockage in his own story.
So knock already! Get to know each other and fall in love. I’ve got a deadline to meet here. What’s the hold up?
The answer is, hunky guy shouldn’t knock. Not yet. Because Miss Thang Author over here hasn’t dug deep enough. I had the plot sketched out but the character sketches were too thin. Even though I thought I knew them, I’d only scratched the surface of who my characters are. I hadn’t unearthed the meaty good stuff–the hidden secrets that drive them to behave the way they do. It was time to interview them again with purple pen and yellow lined pad of paper.
I asked both characters in-depth questions. During one interview session, I asked Hunky, “Why are you a rescue swimmer? What made you decide to take that path after leaving the SEALs?” His answer was startling and really, really good. Sorry, I can’t tell you because it would give away too much in the book. And you deserve to read it as the characters are willing to tell YOU.
And there it is. The reason why the book was stuck. Because at the end of the day, the story is all about them, not me. I may think I know what I’m doing, but in truth, the characters are the ones making all the decisions. They are the ones hurting, longing, falling in love, desperate to hang onto each other. Them. Not me.
Glad we got that straight. I’ve got to run, the characters are wanting to talk again and most likely kiss. Gosh, they are so good together.