Falling in Love Again



It happened yesterday. I fell in love with my characters. This is not as crazy as it sounds. It is a good thing. A very good thing. It's hard to say why it all of a sudden happens. I can start a new novel and know in my guts that it's a good story. The characters have appeal but it isn't until I start to love them that I can relax and let them tell their side of things. The writing becomes easier.
I can tell you exactly when it happened yesterday. I wrote this:

The trailer door needed the usual hip action. Lucky leaped onto my waist and licked my face. "It's okay, boy. I’m okay." Then I sat down on the sofa, dropped my handbag on the floor and cried. I sat there and blubbered with Lucky's paw on my knee and his brown eyes staring up at me as if he wanted to say, "Maybe moving to Paradise wasn't such a good idea, Charlotte."

No, it's not funny or all that poignant. Not really. It is not even a pivotal moment in the plot. It's just a snippet of time in which Charlotte, determined to start a softball team is feeling a little over-whelmed. Only Lucky, her dog witnesses this moment. And I love her for that.

I think it is vital for an author to love her characters, to know them inside and out and truly care about them, think about them, maybe even pray for them, or at least for the story. I pray often that God will help me write, help me understand my characters. Because for me, the characters come first, then the story. I'm not saying character is more important. That would be absurd. It's just the way I roll.

Fictional characters are sometimes more alive and more real to an author than living, breathing, blood-pumping people because we know them so completely. Nothing is hidden, or, I should say, remains hidden between author and character. The author will always get to the heart, the truth of the matter.

I can't imagine that I am unique. It just makes good sense that when an author knows, understands and loves her characters it will make for a better novel. Now I know it might sound silly but you have to remember that authors give life and invest hours and hours in building their characters so I suppose feeling as though we have a relationship with them is only a natural outcome. This is why we cry when we have to kill off a character. It's very hard to let them go but we also know that the story demands it, so we do it. Shut our eyes and pull the trigger because the story demands it.
Hemingway said, "When writing a novel, authors should create people, not characters. Characters are caricatures."
So how about it? Do you love your characters?

2 comments:

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, I so totally relate, Joyce! I get so attached to my characters that I hate to let them go. Now that I have a couple of books already in the pipeline for publication, I realize how much I'm going to miss spending time with those characters, creating new scenes and problems for them, seeing their romances develop ...

Hmmm, I guess that's what sequels are for!

Pam said...

I like my heroine ... I love my antagonist. Isn't that strange? But I know things about my villian that no one else does.