Feedback Friday

Posted: December 6, 2013 in Feedback Friday
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So. Were you surprised, when Caleb up and disappeared with that car? I know I was. I didn’t know he was going to do it until it was done. I’m not real thrilled with him right now.

Recently I read a book on writing by Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum series, in which she stated, “Your character doesn’t do anything you don’t want him to do.” Now, I realize she’s a millionaire best-selling author, and I’m decidedly not, but I’m going to go ahead and disagree with her anyway.

I’m not crazy. I know my characters aren’t real. I made them up. However. I will absolutely argue that a character does, in fact, do something you don’t want him to. Or he tries. Obviously the writer has ultimate say over what goes down on the paper; if I really didn’t want that car to disappear, I could have prevented it. But the realization came to me, just a few moments before it did to Maddie, that he took it. He was gone. So I wrote it down. And you know what? When I thought about it after, yeah, it made sense. Of course that cowardly little prick stole the car and ran. Of course he did. Why wouldn’t he? I wanted him to stick around, I had other plans for him right now, but Caleb is Caleb. Go do your thing, C. We’ll see what he’s been doing when he comes back. (No, I don’t know. But he’ll tell me. I hope.)

Okay, I know. I do sound crazy, don’t I? I don’t think I am, though. The thing is, I don’t consciously make characters. I have roles I want them to fill, and I then I kind of just…wait. For them to show up. If you go read the original blurb for this book (What Is It) you’ll see that I envisioned Maddie’s mother and mother-in-law as slightly different than they turned out to be. I knew Marion was a bitch; I didn’t know she was a stuck-up society bitch until I started getting to know her. I knew Grace wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t know in what ways until she started talking. I finally had to force a name on Vinnie, because that reticent sonofabitch just wasn’t telling me what his was. (And I’m still not sold that it’s Vinnie, but he did this to himself. Cough it up next time.) They’re not real people, but I have to treat them like they are, just a little bit. Otherwise it starts to feel forced and wrong-note, and then I might as well just stop.

I’m sure not every writer works like this. We all have our own quirks. This is mine. And it’s left us with a stolen car and a missing kid, in the middle of what Vinnie believes to be a very bad situation. Should be interesting, seeing how they work this one out. I hope it’s interesting anyway. If it’s not, don’t blame me. That would be Caleb’s fault.

All right. I’ll concede to being, perhaps, 50% crazy.

  1. mxcoot says:

    You are definitely a quirky writer but oh so good. Keep it coming. Love your imagination.

  2. Destinys_Darling says:

    Personally, I don’t think you’re crazy. I think that’s exactly how some characters choose to reveal themselves. Keep it up!

  3. First of all, no, I wasn’t surprised in the least that Caleb made off with the car. In fact, I was surprised that anyone trusted him to stay in the car with the keys in the first place, especially after he HAD JUST shown that he was willing to do whatever it took to save his own skin, screw everyone else.

    That being said, I don’t think you’re crazy at all, what you said makes perfect sense and I’ve heard other authors say the same thing. In fact there was an interview blurb by the author in front of The Last Unicorn that I just read and he said basically the same exact thing, that he waited for characters to show up and fill the roles and he listened to what the said.

    Also, I’m with you, not sure Vinnie is the right name for the character, though not sure what else would work better. Maybe Vince instead? I don’t know, seems like he needs a short, curt, rather taciturn name.

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