Now that it’s almost Labor Day, Memphis is getting the weather that we expect in July and August—that is to say, miserably hot and miserably humid and not fit for anything other than to sit inside and either read or write. I’ve been doing both, when I haven’t been sitting and waiting (forever) in doctors’ offices with George.
How do painters know when the picture is finished? Some never do, and keep touching up and touching up until what was glorious becomes merely mundane. Some writers do the same thing. I have plenty of problems as a writer. That ain’t one of them, although my editor probably wishes I were.
I have friends who plan out every scene, every character trait, every plot point and never deviate throughout a whole book. Their characters would not dare to rebel against them. They may fight for a little leeway, but they never, ever win. Mine get away from me all the time. As a matter of fact, I love the moment when they do something I had never foreseen, but that I know is right. When I get down deep into who they are, sometimes they’re not the people I thought they were at all. Usually, they’re a darned sight more interesting.
Characters must grow and evolve throughout the book. If you have read The Writer’s Journey, you’re well aware of the progression that characters make throughout. I always say that in the Inmost Cave the characters think that they experience the worst that can happen to them.
Oh really? Ah, and then we get the Big Black Moment. That’s when the REALLY worst thing happens to them. The one they never saw coming—losing the person they have come to love. Realizing that the big, fat goals that seemed so important are valueless without that love. Even worse, realizing that the loss is their own fault. They reverted one last time to the same ole hero or heroine they were at the beginning. And really got smacked down.
They must face the challenge they blew in the first few chapters of the book, and because of love, this time they don’t screw it up. This time they step up to the plate, make the right choice, and because they took the risk, they deserve the love that they have found.
I truly believe in lifelong love. Hey, I’ve been married over forty years to the same guy. We haven’t killed one another yet, although it’s been close a couple of times. Romantic in the flowers and candy sense he ain’t. I had to have a baby before he sent me flowers, and I recently found out his secretary sent those. It wouldn’t have occurred to him. We both had to do a lot of changing before we could get this far. Otherwise we could never have become a ‘we.’ That’s what romance is all about, isn’t is? Taking two disparate people and melding them into a ‘we?’