The authors of Main Street started discussing character reality over the weekend. So I thought I’d share my views with everyone. Let me say upfront, I totally know the difference between reality and character reality.
Yes, there are people who drop into a Neverland and no longer can separate the two. Somehow authors and other creative people manage to straddle the two worlds and remain sane. We talk about voices in our heads. We aren’t going to follow the voice who tells us to go rob a bank, but we might have our characters robbing a bank. So the separation remains.
For me, the creative process of selecting characters for a novel takes place in an odd sort of way. It’s not the same each time. Most of the time, I have a physical description that emerges first and then all the back story, quirks, etc. begin to pull together. I don’t start to write the story until I know everything (or I think I know everything) about the character, including how that character prefers his or her coffee.
Then I begin to play with the what ifs and I’ve been known to discuss this with my character. Not really, but I play a scene in my head to see how that character would behave in those circumstances. I tweak the scene and do it again. I do that until I have several scenes and I know my story is going someplace.
Occasionally, I get blindsided. In my upcoming Christmas release with the Authors of Main Street, I revisit Mariner’s Cove. It’s always been a favorite story of mine.
Frank was the younger, college-aged cousin who created havoc for the older cousin, Archer “Brook” Brooklyn, IV. But the irresponsible, bad-boy, Frank has played on my mind for years. And I wanted to use this quaint, New England, lobster town at Christmas. But every time I began to formulate plans for such a novel, it was as though those plans fell into a million little pieces of confetti and I didn’t know why.
So this time Frank emerged, as a mature adult. He’s walked away from motocross as he physically can no longer compete, but he won’t give up the sport or his love of riding motorcycles. That put him in direct conflict with his family. And his need for the adrenaline rush of winning was no longer being fueled in a courtroom. I had enough to send him back to Mariner’s Cove and give him a chance to re-evaluate his life, and what he wanted.
She’s that self-sufficient Yankee who leads a rather boring life, but she’s enjoying it. She’s not about to be bowled over by a cute guy, especially a rich one. As a waitress, she’s seen plenty and she’ not looking for a guy to come save her from her horrid life. Because life is pretty good!
They have barely started their relationship when Celine is a witness to an accident that send Frank off his motorcycle. At that point, my head knew I had my Christmas story. But as I wrote it (I refuse to tell and give away anything) something emerged. It was one of those OMG moments. It had never come up in the first Mariner’s Cove book. And in my mind, at that moment, all sorts of things came together. It made prefect sense!
So yes, my characters will still catch me off guard. But how many times in real life have you been surprised at a close friend who reveals something to you?
Frank is real to me, as is Celine. The town is real – I’ve walked those streets, I’ve been aboard those boats, and I know the men who run them! Why? Because I’ve been in a hundred such towns. I’ve eaten those meals, known watermen, and I’ve known lawyers. I’ve been friends with the women who’ve been married to them.
And as for that accident… My niece was in a motorcycle accident with severe brain trauma. My hubby spent ten days in a neuro-unit. That means I’ve spent way too many days of my life coping with brain trauma. I’ve seen full recovery and death. These things affect the stories I write. But they also enrich the stories and make them more real. So by the time I’ve finished, the characters are as real to me as I can get them. And according to my reviews, they are real to the people who read them.
I’m willing to release a few advanced copies of my upcoming Christmas story for honest reviews. If you’d like a copy just let me know. You can go to the contact page here on my personal blog and leave me your email address. Just put ARC (Advance Review Copy) in the subject line and I’ll send you a review copy of this novella.
Yes, Frank has grown up. Lives are about to change. And once the wheel starts spinning, we all know that there is no turning back the hands of time.
I love writing. I love creating characters and stories that take my readers away from their mundane lives. And I love hearing from readers!
A review said of another novel of mine:
Do characters become real to you as you write or read them? Do you feel disoriented when you must face the real world? I’d love to hear from you!