Divorce? Yes! The time has come. The relationship has ended. There’s nothing left of what was once wonderful and beautiful. It’s over.
As an author, there comes a time when we must divorce our characters. It’s tough. We don’t want to do it. There’s all this emotional energy that has gone into them. Alas, we must leave them, fall in love with someone else, and write their story. No longer can we allow those characters to invade our sleep. They must leave. Once they are gone, we can still look back fondly on them and remember the way they were. Stolen kisses, passionate feelings, the quirky little things that they did.
Sound insane? Not at all. Authors must climb into their characters. They become them. I think within the romance genre the emotional connection is extreme. Writing can be emotionally draining. To write it we must feel it and than means feeling the pain, frustration, anger and all the negative things along with the thrill, excitement, and the love. It’s a roller coaster ride of highs and lows.
So as the edit process begins, the author has to pull away from the characters in order to look at the whole story. It’s important to become detached and remain unbiased. We must see them as our readers see them. We must see where we’ve failed to say what the character really is feeling and not let it slide with what we thought we said. Furthermore, when a manuscript comes back from an editor, we often discover that sometimes that character has totally failed to be that sexy wonderful guy and instead is a brazen, overly cocky mess that must be reined in and quickly repaired. Or his arms must have been made of very stretchy rubber for we left him in the living room yet he’s managing to open the refrigerator.
So we must divorce them by the time edits are done. Edits is discovering that the honeymoon has ended. And once a manuscript is sent for publication, we must be able to look back with only fond memories of what once was. Most of us are monogamous. That means we need to sweep away the old so that we can embrace the new characters and fall in love again.
I’m in the process of divorcing myself from my Christmas story characters. I flipped the tables this time and created a heroine who has the power to make or break the top CEOs. But maybe the real heroine of this story is under the the age of twelve months. She doesn’t care about money and has no clue what it is. Her needs are simple and she loves everyone. Her hello-world attitude separates the wheat from the chuff as fast as a dirty diaper.
I know the day isn’t too far away that I will forever turn my back to these Christmas characters and give them away to my readers. The divorce has already begun – the separation agreement is in place. I’m looking at them from a distance. They are in edits.
When a review comes in that says the reader didn’t want it to end, I know why. The reader fell in love, too. To close a book, be it paper or electronic and end the relationship always hurts. The keeper shelf is a little like keeping that faded photo from the dance or whatever event from so many years ago. Maybe you didn’t marry him, but your heart will never forget.
It’s time for me to move on. I already know who I will become and maybe she’s a little more like me. Until then, there’s nothing like a book boyfriend. (Even if I’ve created him!)