I was talking with a young man who is an English major in college about my writing process. His questions had me examining the way I write, where my voice comes from and how I work story out. I told him it wasn’t just getting a good story idea and plotting the chapters, but looking at who the people are, how they got to the place they were when the story begins and what is the real truth of character.
Just like real humans, story human’s reactions and perspectives are based on their life experiences – even if those are made up by the author.
It’s sort of like a PR guy who comes up with an identity that is appealing and interesting, and will make the celebrity into a money making character. The celebrity grabs onto this identity and runs with it.
That’s what happens when I come up with a fictional character. I reach a point where there is reality attached to them. I know what they sound like when they speak, I see their mannerisms and habits. I’ve learned their hopes, faults, mistakes and desires.
Creating my world filled with these people I’ve discovered in my mind thrills me. It’s what I like best about writing. The research is fun, the discovery of plot and story stokes my creative side. The beauty of it gives my imagination what it needs to grow.
Writing is fun.
The Netflix is on, the red wine is poured, I’ve sorted through stacks of research and plotting, and the words in my mind feel powerful as I have these discussions with myself about the next scene. I prevaricate, interrogate, contradict, profane and sermonize to draw out the dialogue coming up. With my eyes closed I wander through rooms, ride on horses and in carriages, feel the wind blow and the rain fall. It is part of immersing myself in the past.
There will be fictional and non-fictional humans represented in the story. I love the idea of putting the “real to me” characters I have created into contact with real people in historically accurate settings and see what happens.
In my first book “Blame It On Whiskey” Amanda Peterson had a face to face with Geronimo. It required quite a bit of research into who he was and how he might react in an encounter with a white female. What would she do to gain his respect? In my second book “The Holder of My Flame” Jacob Severn meets with President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses Grant when he is assigned a dangerous job for the government. Their interactions required knowledge of what are the priorities, desires, and motivations that drive powerful men.
For a time in this current book Jude Tremaine is in a place so alien, and contrasts so profoundly to his home he must find in himself the will to continue because this is his place in life, an officer in the US 1st Cavalry. He has left his Philadelphia home and is heading to Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. He will face bigotry, violence, and his whole purpose wrenched from him. In all of this is a delicate, good woman who loves him and is patient.
Time to get back to work.
Story construction, especially the part where the characters are created, fleshed out, and developed into someone who draws emotion from you, is where I am in my current work.
My historical romance stories are equal parts romance and history. I need to make sure my people and places are fit together in a way that is consistent for the time period. The culture and the morals of the time are critical to the realism of the story. The history research plays into that part of the story. The romance part, the sexy part I build into the relationships in a way that is as compelling to me as I hope it is to the reader.
One part of the history I write has action in it. I love writing the action, with the help of my hubby. He is great help in developing these parts, especially from the mans perspective. The current story is set in 1869, has post civil war US Army and Chiricahua Apaches in it. The research has been so exciting, and fun. The discoveries I’ve made and the knowledge I’ve garnered is compelling.
I have to tell this story!
This romance is one I hinted at in the previous book. It’s funny how as a writer you find out what the character wants to say, feel, and do. They exist in my mind, but once they are on paper they become more than the words. I know what they sound like, how they walk, the way they caress the person they desire, and the emotions in their relationships.
I did discover a new character who stepped onto the story stage and will really mix things up. I’m excited to see how this all teases out.
So now it’s time to put it together.
Click on the link below to buy the first book in the trilogy.