Monday, November 17, 2008

It All Starts With Love

image My stories do not write, no matter how hard I try, until I love the main character. Sometimes it might take a few paragraphs to get me there, but I must absolutely fall in love. Sometimes this is a tenderness and love I feel for my readers, which is probably a little bizarre and silly and embarrassing, because, when it comes down to it, I don't know my readers individually. Only as some theoretical whole, a mish-mash of details they've written me about, of bits and struggles that have been shared or overheard, of compassion and shared longing, of common aches and similar dreams.

Is it the writer's way to see the snippy, barking, cranky woman and love her? To fill in a whole backstory of a woman who wants love more than anything and can't seem to help herself but to push away what she wants most?

Is it the writer's way to see a person suffering, and ache to write a whole book in order to comfort her? Or him? To see a person in despair and want to write a book to give him hope?

Is it the writer's way to analyze every person she comes across, to the point of being a sensitive, over-analytical freak? To be a nosybody, always curious about why people do what they do and how they feel about it?

With the writer's love, I think, comes the greatest fear of letting one's character down, of letting their readers down.

For me, there is a burning fear, a burning hope, and a burning need for me to do my character justice, to do the story right for her.

Can you tell I love my current character more than any I've loved any character before? (It's possible I say that every time.)

How does it feel for you? Where does it start for you? When your story "takes off," when you hit that moment when the story starts unfolding before your eyes and you're just taking notes, what sets it off?

What's the trigger button for you?

20 bonus scribbles:

Amy Nathan 11/17/2008 11:53:00 AM  

I think that for me, it's a matter of admiration and likability. I admire my main character for being many things I am not. I admire most of the secondary characters for having traits that I like in myself and in others -- boisterous laughter, blatant honesty, devotion. There is a character I do adore now that you mention it, and she's a friend of the MC. Funny but she is the one I toy with writing the second book about. Hmm, interesting observations Spy, as always.

spyscribbler 11/17/2008 12:12:00 PM  

Amy, I get that, too. I think all my characters are better than me. Hah- I think most people are better than me! :-)

I love those characters who insist on their own book.

Melanie Avila 11/17/2008 12:30:00 PM  

That's funny you say that. Just last night I was thinking that my teenagers should have their own book. I have no idea yet what that would be, but I love them.

I'd say they're the ones I love most, but since I've only written one other, that's not saying much.

spyscribbler 11/17/2008 12:35:00 PM  

Oh, Melanie! Have you ever read Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember? I could totally see you writing a teenage love book like that, except totally different (more you, for one thing), with your hook and everything.

(And if you haven't, I have that on my shelf, too, and I'll throw that in. My goal is to have empty shelves by Christmas!)

LaDonna 11/17/2008 12:47:00 PM  

Spy, I felt every word you said about your characters. I love them all too for various reasons. The fact they come to me, allow me to tell their story is at the top of the list. How precious is that? And to step inside their world, and feel and be everyone at the same time, that's pretty magical.

My favorite moment is when I'm deep in-story, and know when I finish a scene exactly where the next one will go. The first draft for me is what it's all about, that first ride. Nothing like it! It's the rawness of it, the purity that clings to me as a writer. I can built on the story during revisions, but it's the first brush of oil for me.

Edie 11/17/2008 01:02:00 PM  

Wow! What you said about your characters touched me. I don't think about my characters the same way, but maybe that's why it takes me so long to get going with my book. I always think my characters are great before I start the book -- at least my idea of what they should be. But it's not until I'm writing them that they come to life. That's when I get into their minds and their hearts and their soul. If I don't, my book is in trouble.

Robin 11/17/2008 01:20:00 PM  

I would only love my characters if were Pop Tarts.

No, just kidding. I do love my characters. That's what makes me want to write about them. It would be hard to write a book about an unlikable character. I really admire authors who can do that.

spyscribbler 11/17/2008 01:37:00 PM  

That's it, LaDonna, that's it! That's one of the reasons why I love the name of you guys's blog, Magical Musings.

I love the way you describe the process of your first draft. I sorta get in there and do all my drafts at the same time, but I think the way you do it is cool.

spyscribbler 11/17/2008 01:39:00 PM  

Edie, completely. Sometimes I start as a reader does, with intriguing outlines of a character, but once I get going, I ride on the love of that character. If I don't feel it, things pretty much die, and the book is excruciating to write.

spyscribbler 11/17/2008 01:40:00 PM  

Robin, I suspect that writers love their unlikable characters. It's like that person I described, the snippy, crabby one who just can't help herself. It's easy to love someone once you see their vulnerability. It makes you want to protect them, you know?

Melanie Avila 11/17/2008 02:02:00 PM  

Spy, I do have A Walk to Remember and loved that book. I can see the parallels between my story. I'll have to send you a sample of this part I'm writing now to see what you think. Once I write it, of course.

Travis Erwin 11/17/2008 02:02:00 PM  

I don't necessarily have to love my characters but I have to find them intriguing., I have to want to discover more about them which motivates me tow rite and discover.

Kath Calarco 11/17/2008 02:14:00 PM  

Tough question, Spy. Let me get back to you...

diamondesign 11/18/2008 04:58:00 PM  

My characters in one way or another are related to someone I know and have had some sort of relationship good, bad or indifferent. That way I feel them and it makes it easier for me to create the enviornment.

spyscribbler 11/18/2008 05:48:00 PM  

Yes, Melanie, please. Definitely! I loved that book. And the movie, too!

spyscribbler 11/18/2008 05:48:00 PM  

Travis, intriguing usually gets me to love. Hopefully! :-)

spyscribbler 11/18/2008 05:49:00 PM  

LOL, Kath! I'll be waiting! ;-)

spyscribbler 11/18/2008 05:50:00 PM  

That's fascinating, Diamond! Thanks for popping by. :-) My characters are typically unlike anyone I know at all. I'm not sure where they come from, really.

Dube 11/24/2008 02:14:00 PM  

You know, a person can't write a really good novel or screenplay without knowing a character as deeply as you described. Otherwise, they just come across as two-dimensional. I can certainly relate to what you're saying. There is one character in a scifi screenplay that I'm totally "enamored" with, so to speak. I find his storyline & background really intriguing. I hope that's not just because I wrote it. ;-)

spyscribbler 11/24/2008 05:56:00 PM  

Dube, I love those characters. Love the ones that stick with you. I have one I've loved for going on three years, but... I just haven't found the story for her.