Guess who I found roaming around? I grabbed Dale Mayers and brought her inside to join us. I conned her into blogging for us. Please make her feel at home.
Are your kids characters? Or are your characters kids?First off, many thanks to Mary for the invitation to blog here today.
I’m doing NaNoWriMo right now, a writing effort to produce 50,000 words in the month of November. Every week we receive a pep talk email from one of the many people behind NaNoWriMo. On one of them, the author was talking about dealing with loss of control in real life and enjoying having control in her writing world. I found it an interesting topic as I often feel I have too tight a control of my life. Out of necessity. I’m a single mother of four of which the top three positions are all held by tall, testosterone pumping males.
It was mandatory to be the boss when they were smaller - in order to avoid being run over by their maturing power tromping ways. The only way I could maintain command was by being the one firmly in control. My strategy for surviving motherhood used writing as an escape.That’s why I started with writing romance, always creating that same happy-ever-after. I can’t 100 percent blame my shift to gritty romantic suspense (occasionally butting up against the horror genre) on the kids – or can I? I do know that in the beginning, there was a need to actually have my characters do what they were told to do - when my own kids wouldn’t.
But then I found that my characters didn’t appreciate being told what to do anymore than my kids did. It took me a long time to realize that outlining for me fell into the same category. My stories also didn’t welcome being ‘controlled.’
Maybe it’s when I realized I needed to loosen up more as a mother/father combo or maybe it was realizing that there is a time and place to give the kids their chance to succeed or fail on their own, or maybe the loosening up happened as my kids grew older and learned to respect the rules – and me. Either way, I managed to let them do more - only to hear my characters sitting on the sidelines saying, “Hey, what about us?”
The result? I gave up ALL attempts to direct my characters and let them walk all over me. Sigh. The good news is that just like my kids who have learned to make good decisions, my characters are just as decisive about their actions and just as honest with their reactions to the often surprising outcomes.
Now if only I could teach them all patience – even my sons. My characters tend to sit on my shoulder and prod me into higher productivity – arguing and cheering until they are happy with the story. There are actually times where I have to delete entire paragraphs because they don’t like them and won’t let me move on until I make it right.
One saving grace with letting my characters lead is that when they get uppity, if they too nasty or too out of control, discipline is easy – there’s always the delete button. The kids now...that’s a different story!
So what about the rest of you? Are your characters children to you? Do they behave? Or do they try to control your waking thoughts? Have personality traits of your own children slipped into your characters? Or are they completely unique? Have you read a book where you knew the author had to be talking about your kids?