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.
Some people don’t seem to understand what it takes to focus on writing. Just because the music is playing and I am walking around talking to myself doesn’t mean I am not in a writing zone and it’s okay to barge in and start chatting. I am seriously thinking I need a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door.
Some people need silence, solitude – space to make the words flow and the jumble of thoughts to become a cohesive body of narrative. Me, not so much. That works at times I’ve found, especially when I am editing. In most cases I have music – all kinds of music – filling my work room. I dance, pace, wander, talk to no one, and fiddle with my muse.
Right now the playlist is soul/pop from the last forty years. Prince, Jimmy Luxury, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations. Whoa baby, digging it.
Then the interruptions….
Thus the blog refuge to focus my mind on creating and my fingers a needed a warm up – you get me?
Had a fun thing happen yesterday while hubby and I were gardening. Lots of soil was moved, reseeding the back yard and planting flower seeds by the pond. I asked if the spa was hot and he said yes, and I replied after this day we need a soak and alcohol, and who knew what next. He agreed and by 8:30 pm we were in the hot water, staring at the stars, planning our next adventures. It was splendid. In my mind I thought “I’m going to use this in a story!”
Isn’t that great when that happens?
We have introduced Cleo to the outdoors and she is digging it. She has gotten big enough and savvy enough to know to stay near the house while she explores. One interesting aspect is Millie, as the big sister German Shepherd, pays attention to her and when she gets out of Millie’s sight the search is on. Millie kind of whines as she tries to find the wee cat, only calming when she is back. So adorable.
They are so cute and are pretty good buddies. Cleo loves Millie’s big swishey GSD tail, and Millie will nudge and lick Cleo when she is laying on the floor. Their food bowls are in the same place separated by a water bowl they share.
We had Jake for a while but he went back to his family once they were again able to house him, much to Jake’s happiness.
I have always liked having a dog and a cat. I love the difference in the two animals, and they both nourish the variety of pet lover needs I have. Chuck and I are both this way.
So now the words are flowing. Time to ease back into the past as Jude Tremaine arrives at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. It could very well be a bloody night in the mountains around him. Ready for a rowdy ride, a betrayal, and a heartbreaking loss? Volume II of The Tremaines is in progress. Pray for no more interruptions unless the house is burning down or the wine is running out.
While I’ve been working stories, especially fiction, the one thing I discovered is the complexity of character names. How do other people come up with names? Sometimes I’ve had a name from the start. In the case of my current story the main characters’ names have been in my head from the beginning. I also had several of the other background and ancillary characters with names I knew I wanted to use.
But this one guy. My main female’s ex-husband. What the crap is his name? Todd, Alec. Oh he’s dead, a jerk, and only referred to in past tense.
I’ve come up with those two names so far, but they just don’t strike me as the right one. All you writers out there. Where do you look for names? Do you have a proven method to find the one that works?
I am currently trying to blog, listening to classical music and eating a sandwich while trying to keep the cat from my food.
So let me know the way you find the best name for a fictional human.
This morning I got up, got coffee, checked emails, looked at Facebook, watched the Weather Channel, played with Millie, showered and then…nothing…I didn’t know what to do next.
Ok I did have a something I had to do today but otherwise I had no real plans. I grabbed my purse and phone, got in the car and drove away.
I had no clue where I was going.
I knew I had to get some cash, but I could do that at a lot of places so no direction there. I just drove. I got about seven or eight miles from home when I saw the shopping center where my grocery store is and thought “vitamins”. I hadn’t been in the very cool vitamin store in a while so bingo, I had a target direction.
I parked and walked into the store to be greeted by the very nice woman who runs the store. She asked if she could help me and there I was again…nothing…no direction.
I began to tell her about my morning and how I ended up at her store. She seemed interested and we shared stories of similar experiences. I told her I was going to roam around and see if anything caught my eye. After several minutes I had an arm full of items and was ready to check out. I told her about my blog and that this would probably show up in it and Nancy (her name, right how cool it that) said she would like to read the blog so I wrote down the link for her.
So here’s a shout out to you Vitamin lady Nancy.
I hadn’t had any breakfast so I stopped in at The Good Egg. I like the eggs benedict there and the youthful servers. It has a nice vibe to it. I got more coffee and I pulled out my notebook I carry all the time, to make some notes on the story I am currently working on and proceeded to spend a pleasant almost hour there.
Left there and got the one thing I had to get which was the cash and headed home. After I got back my story was screaming out to me with some additions and edits, so I spent a pleasant couple of hours immersed in my own fictional world (glorious) and here we are!
This has been a day for writing. The thoughts are flowing and I am loving these people I am finding. I have a glass of wine and great music playing. Perfect writing atmosphere. I have laughed at their conversations and look forward to finding out their story.
Humans are strange and interesting. How they become who they are is the best part of developing a story-line. I know they come from me but they are people with their own loves and hurts. Experiences mold us. I have personal knowledge of them based on what has gone on in my life. That is all I can give them to start with and then they grow like flowers in a well tended garden. I write and then I re-read what I wrote to know more of their minds. This is the cultivation.
Teasing out their reactions can be the best part of this cultivation. Writing a scene that has nothing to do with me personally is exciting. This means they are forming into individuals. They are real to me. One thing that is fun to create is the town they inhabit. In the case of this story it is fictional but I know it already. I know what it looks like, which way the roads run and where the business and home are located. I took some time to draw the town on paper. This gives me a reference in the same way my notes about the characters flesh out who they are. I make notes along the way. I love finding names for them. They must fit the character. In my office/library I have hundreds of books that I will refer to for names. What a thrill.
The conflict I already know about, but giving voice to this and when to do it is a process in revealing it in a natural way. Deeply felt conflict doesn’t jump out and grab you. The story is learning its way into this, at least that is what is happening now. My mind runs in circles sometimes. Is it strong? Is it real? It is there, but what is the defining act?
My heart is happy and my fingers are getting tired. It’s late and I’m at that point of reflection on the words.
I wrote in an earlier blog thatI was having issues getting started on a new story, a contemporary romance/mystery and had gone back to an old manuscript and was working it up. Well…that worked out so well for me. I have been having huge fun with the old story, you know getting reacquainted with the people and rewriting it, that during the process words and ideas for the new story started to flow. Lot’s of words and I have been having so much fun.
I also heard from one of my beta readers for the story I finished and want to get published. I was told they really liked it! This is someone who doesn’t read the genre but liked what I had written. There were a few things that out were pointed out which were excellent suggestions and will be considered. Boy was I a happy girl!!
Record breaking heat for Tucson coming our way this week so I will be sequestered indoors. As I have said before I don’t do hot unless I can get wet. So 110 and near a pool I can tolerate. Humans who live where it snows for 3-4 months of the winter do the same thing as I do when it gets this hot. I just don’t go anywhere unless I have to.
I will be getting my puppy the first of August and I am so ready and excited. I am also trying to find a part time job that will force me out of the house and bring in some spare change. Anyone need a proof-reader? I am really good at proof reading. Let me know.