BLLOG HOP! INSIDE THE WRITER’S HEAD
Firstly, thanks to Elle Druskin for asking me to join this blog hop of getting inside writer’s heads! A scary thought!
You can check out Elle’s web site at www.elledruskin.com
My first thought is… get inside my head – if you dare! There’s so much going on inside a writer’s head it has a tendency to be chaotic with lots of voices vying for attention. Those voices are characters who want their stories told. Others may think it’s time to bind me in a straight jacket!
To a non-writer the concept of characters wanting THEIR story told is weird in many ways. I mean who writes this story? The writer? Actually the answer for most of us is that it’s a combination of writer…and the character. These characters take on a life of their own, are bossy, Dominican, and even take over at times, leading the writer astray from their original idea.
In my latest release THE HIGHWAYMAN’S BRIDE as I began the story I had no notion of the hero having a son, let alone a dead wife. But all of a sudden this child and the story of the dead wife arrived on the page from my fingers. It was as if it was put there not by me but by the hero. In fact, it was perfect. So one wonders why I didn’t write that into the plot in the first place.
For me when I start a story I know the basic outline, their backstory etc, but it is only as I get deeper into the story do I really find out what’s going on in their heads.
But where do the ideas come from?
Most will tell you it comes from around us. I think many writers are real observers; we snoop into what is going on around us. A conversation, standing in a cue at the bank, seeing somebody that looks rather interesting. For example years ago I was in hospital and required to be on bed rest for a month – while staring out the hospital window I saw this cloud scooting past and all of a sudden I wondered what it would be like to be on that cloud. Maybe be an angel cloud hopping, and then what if that angel fell off the cloud and landed back on earth. From that, the novel, To Kiss an Angel was born, written and subsequently sold.
For The Highwayman’s Bride, I wondered what would drive a normally very obedient young woman to run away and take to the roads as a highwayman. In effect to abandon everything known to her. That sure would take some desperation.
For me, books can start with simply a character’s name, or even something as small as a title. Years ago I wanted to write a Christmas story. There was a competition on and it had to do with something about Santa. That ended up being Desperately Seeking Santa.
Okay, so you have an idea that you want to write a particular story. Where to from there?
For me, it’s where the hard work begins, and I must say I do like to be able to brainstorm with a friend. Often they will see things quite different from me and come up with an idea I hadn’t thought of. So I highly recommend brainstorming and also having a critique partner, who can read your work with a professional eye.
So you have the idea. Next step for me is jotting down notes about their backstory. What is it that makes them who they are? Their childhood, parents, siblings, job, values and morals, relationships with friends, lovers, wives, husbands etc. Everything that has gotten them to the point where my story starts. We humans are a combination of everything up until that moment and so too are our characters. Of course I must know their likes and dislikes. Fears, Flaws. Personal appearances. Some of this of course may not come out until you are actually writing, but you do need to know the general idea of it all. It is this depth of detail which will make your character real on the page.
Then of course it’s what is their story going to be about? Their goals. What is it that they want right now, so desperately that they’ll do something that is not their norm.
What is motivating that goal? To save themselves, someone else. The motivation too has to be so strong to force them to break out of their normal routine/life.
But of course no book is a satisfactory read without their conflict. And so I need to come up with a conflict both external and internal. And it is the internal that adds the depth to the story, the emotional journey. I must say that I do struggle at times with this. No one likes to hurt their characters. In Secrets and Seduction, my heroine valued her home over her head very highly, she’d led a bit of a gypsy childhood and so having somewhere stable for her and her daughter was paramount.
So I burnt the house down.
Now what for my dear heroine. She had nowhere to go, a child, mounting debts, and of course the man she’d been obliged to marry stepped in. That he reminded her of her ex (dead) husband was an added bonus to the conflict.
Currently I’m working on two romantic suspense. Writing these is a bit different from straight romance because of the suspense plot. So what you’ve got is a romance thread, a suspense thread and often another thread too. Again my characters changed during this process, the bad guy will get redeemed in the end, and the exciting thing about this is that it will lead to his own story!
Why do I write? Because the voices need to be let lose on the page. Because I love a good story – and it beats housework LOL!
Of course writing the first draft is probably the easy part, because then all the hard work begins. The editing, making sure you’re not head hopping (Point of view), redundant words and basically does the whole darn lot makes sense, and have you followed through on all the story threads.
Writing a novel is a journey for both the characters and the writer. The characters start out wanting ABC and realize that in fact they want/need something quite different in the end and what they thought they wanted isn’t as important after all, and for the writer, they start out writing the character’s story, believing they know it all, and realize in the end the characters knew a whole lot more than they did.
NEXT STOP ON THE BLOG HOP! http://www.shirleywine.com/blog/
I am a New Zealander born and bred….and after a lifetime spent on the land it’s not surprising that most of my books have that distinctive rural feel that readers love… Most of my stories are set in New Zealand, our south sea paradise in the antipodes. I’ve always written, freelancing for local and National newspapers, but Romance is my true love…and have been a reader of romance from the moment my sister introduced me to The English Women’s Weekly and their wonderful serialised romances…
I know the world is full of heroes as I have my own hero right here at home….my enduring loves are reading, my house is crowded with books on every subject imaginable. My other great hobby is gardening. Now, after a lifetime spent farming, I live with my husband in semi-retirement on the traditional Kiwi quarter acre section with a cat and two
Happy writing and reading.