Our theme this month is relationships. What a great topic for February and for writers. I’m having such a hard time decided which part of this critter to lasso. I may have to bifurcate the blog!
Readers know all about one of the most important relationships a writer will ever have. It’s the relationship between reader and character. A writer creates her characters, gives them names (which sometimes they graciously deign to keep), hair and eye color, hobbies, values, quirks, and flaws. Unless a character is part of a series, the writer determines most of these before sitting down to write the story so they will hopefully stay consistent and flame-haired Mystie won’t turn into raven haired Maggie around page eighty. Has been known to happen, though. If the character is a series character, then the baselines are constant, but the character does grow and change, and the writer needs to keep track of the changes as they happen
Now that we’ve talked about a perfect world here’s the real 411 – characters have lives of their own. Somewhere between their neat creation and the story taking place on the computer screen, those critters hijack the story. Your characters expect you to trust them to act in a way that is best for the story, and while it makes no sense in the three-dimensional world, in the story world, the character is always right. I spent a long month writing entire chapters of Death by Sunken Treasure while my character rebelled. It wasn’t working. Finally, in sheer desperation, I started a new file called “Hayden’s Way.” I wrote the same chapters letting the character take the lead. Know what, those were the ones that made it to the book. And they changed the entire story.
The idea of trusting a character that I created to make changes to a story I was writing took a bit of getting used to. It’s second nature now, provided I’ve come to know the character well enough. After all, a story doesn’t work at all if the character doesn’t change and grow. Just as in real life, we have to learn let go and trust we’ve done our job well enough.
There is a second relationship that readers may not be aware of in a writer’s world. It’s the relationships between writers. An interviewer once asked me what I wish I had known when I first became involved in this business. I responded that I wished I had known how welcoming and generous other writers are to newbies. There is nothing cutthroat about the writing business. One would think given the rapid demise of large publishing houses, the decline of bookstores, the explosion of online retailers, the glut of books enticing readers, the pressures of self-marketing, the difficulty in acquiring an agent, and/or obtaining a publishing contract that writers, when approached by “the competition” would curl into small balls and pretend not to notice other writers. NOT SO. Shouting intended.
Established writers will go out of their way to respond to comments, requests for blurbs, give advice, encouragement, whatever it takes to get a new or newer writer on the path to publication or help keep the writer there. Writers see what they do as a gift, and successful ones seem to remember the uncertainty and struggle they went through and want to honor that difficult time by easing the way for others.
So, the point of this blog? Writing is all about relationships. In the writing life, and in the life of writers.
Happy February all, and happy Valentine’s day.
Kait Carson lives in an airpark in south central Florida with a pilot husband, eight tropical birds, and six rescue cats. By day, she’s a practicing probate and litigation paralegal, in the evening, legal pads give way to a keyboard, and she spins tales of murder and mayhem set in the tropical heat. Kait writes two series, the Catherine Swope series, set in Miami, and the Hayden Kent series set in the Fabulous Florida Keys.
Kait loves to hear from readers, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on Twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.