MY NANOWRIMO ML (municipal liaison) kept telling me (and everyone else) to kill a character. For the past two years I’ve attended, this seemed to be his mantra. Kill a character. And he had a method: with a shovel.
Well, you don’t kill characters with shovels in a kid’s novel, right? I had a number of people point to Harry Potter and a few other kids’ books for examples of multiple brutal killings. Well, not in my novel, you don’t. And that’s that.
Well, I found out last year that characters have a mind of their own. They do not go where you planned for them to go. They don’t “stay with the script” that you’ve planned out in your head. They go, do, and say what they need to as a character. And I am fine with that. It has helped me grow as a writer. It has helped my story line, and it has helped my characters.
But, I was frustrated with where they had taken the storyline. I needed them to be back at home. But, noooo. They had to go traipsing off to their ‘Never Land’…I was driving down to the last Write-In, having already reached my 50,000 word goal–such a wonderful, euphoric feeling in itself–when it dawned on me how I could solve several problems at once…not only get them back to where they needed to be, but help one of the characters do a little bit of growing.
And then, I laughed. I was going to kill a character? You’ve got to be kidding! No. I could not possibly kill a character. I did much soul searching. This started as a children’s book..that now reaches up to the middle school age group, not unlike the Harry Potter series. I don’t want to be responsible for younger kids’ nightmares! What to do…listen to the character or my alternate storyline…
Uh, oh…spoilers? Well… I guess you’ll just have to wait till the book is published to find out, won’t you?
But, what I really wanted to talk about was how my characters have pulled me in. I don’t know if all writers feel this way, but when I write, I feel my characters’ joy, their pain and frustrations. I laugh at the things they do and occasionally find myself a bit sad.
It is a beautiful thing, to have such alive characters — at least in my head. I know I have much “fleshing out” of each character to make them more believeable to everyone else. It is only a first draft. There will be more to come before I am comfortable in showing it to an agent (if I can find one) or someone that can help constructively to polish it into a final product that I might just self-publish.
I am thinking about them, day and night. An obsession? Who knows. This is one obsession I don’t mind having. I’ve been working on this for so long. I started it just before my mother died and tried to write as I took care of my dad, but ended up shelving it for quite awhile. I’d occasionally pull it out, trying to edit it, then do some writing, but couldn’t get motivated. Or captivated by the story or the characters.
Finally, I’m captivated. I believe I have invested my heart and soul in the characters in this story. The last two years (and especially this last month), I think I’ve managed to dive in and create what may be the beginnings of a trilogy…or, at least I think so. And my mind is not done with this story. No, not by a long shot. And that makes me happy–and frustrated, because I must find some sort of ending so I can say it is done. Done, but left ‘open-ended’, so that I can easily continue it on. That way, I can stop what I’m beginning to call the ‘never-ending story’ and begin the process of editing my first draft. I will keep making notes when thoughts arise for new material (that means continuously), but my focus must be on completing this one first.
I love my characters. How can I not? I’ve been told to focus on one, dump the other–I have two. They are too engaging to get rid of one. They work very well together. I was told to write from the viewpoint of one. I chose to write from multiple viewpoints…it was necessary. If you ask me who my primary character is, I am not be able to tell you — at least not now. Maybe after re-writes, I’ll know.
Like I said before, I think about them all the time. How can I get them out of the trouble they always seem to get into? What characteristics do each have? How can I grow their characters as the story progresses? All of this seems to float around in my brain all the time now — especially during and after NaNoWriMo. I’m excited about this story, as I should be. But…
Perhaps, I just might, sometime in the future…yes, I just might post some excerpts.
I will now let you get back to your normal lives — away from the rambling of this deranged woman. Sorry to have kept you for so long.
Peace be with you as we get closer to the frenzy the World calls Christmas. May you find quiet, and the real reason for the season.