Crying Over Characters

Friday, 24 April 2015

A kind of funny thing happened to me last week and it has changed the way I look at writing. I have few stalled out WIPs (well, maybe more than a few, whatever) and as much as I love the story in each of them, they just don’t seem to hold my attention for long. I never knew why until last week. Honestly, I never really thought to wonder. I have spent my ADHD life flitting from one passion to the next (mostly craft- and career-wise), so I didn’t really think it was anything out of the ordinary. And then I watched Hart of Dixie.

Now, if you are a fan of the show, you know that they cut this season short and that most likely the show won’t be renewed. I only say most likely because there hasn’t been confirmation and petitions are floating all over the internet and stacking up signatures to get it renewed, but I’m not going to hold my breath. 

Anyway, back to my point. In the episode before the season/series finale, George decided to leave Bluebell for a career in Nashville. Now George isn’t necessarily my favorite character, I mean, I am Team Wade all the way, but something snapped in me when he announced his departure to the town. I found myself crying.

That’s right, crying. You would have thought that he was a close personal friend of mine. I don’t usually cry over these types of things, either. But there I was. Now, I knew right then that the following episode would probably end with me sobbing (it did), but this one, just the threat of losing one of Bluebell’s beloved residents, had really struck a nerve. 

In bed that night I thought more about it. What was it that had made me cry? What I came up with wasn’t really a surprise, but it answered a number of questions I hadn’t thought to ask before. The reason I cried was because George’s announcement signaled the start of the end. The end of a show where I loved each and every character in their own way. A show that I couldn’t imagine not seeing ever again. Because I cared about the characters.

And there it was. The reason I had abandoned so many good story lines. I wasn’t in love with the characters; sometimes I wasn’t even in like. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily pass my characters of as two dimensional or completely flat. I have done a lot of research on writing characters, enough to know that they aren’t really so bad. But now, it occurred to me that they weren’t the type I would miss once the story ended. They didn’t have whatever it was the characters of Hart of Dixie had.

So, this week I have made it my mission to discover what is missing. I started by analyzing the HoD characters to see what I loved about each of them. Zoe, of course, is the main character. I love her clumsiness, she is the poster child for the saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. I can often sympathize.
Zoe isn’t my favorite, though. My favorite is AnnaBeth. She is so down to earth and caring. She also gets the short end of the stick time and again. She would do anything for those she loves and she gives her heart away too easily. But she isn’t a doormat, either. She’s sarcastic and feisty. 

I think it is time to look at my characters and decide what qualities that they are lacking. What would make me cry when their story is over? How about you? Whose is your favorite character—book, TV, movies, whatever—and why?


Friday, 3 April 2015

I have struggled all day to think about what to write in this post. In all honesty, this has been one of those weeks where I feel like I have been used and abused. I haven’t felt terribly ‘inspired’ much at all. That said, I did sign up for Camp NaNo, and two days in, so far, so good. I accredit that to the fact that I am enjoying my WIP, so maybe that story is inspiring. 

Inspiration is a funny thing, isn’t it? As writers, we talk about finding inspiration in the world around us and fighting with our muse and at least another hundred hints at inspiration. But what really inspires us to sit down at the desk, or table, or whatever and start writing? And what inspires the stories, themselves?

My inspiration to write comes mostly from dreams—wishes, really—of a simpler time when I can go for a run in the middle of the day and spend more time doing the things that I love, like hanging out with the kids… and dare I say it… coloring. Seriously, I bought myself a new set of coloring pencils and three grown-up coloring books on Amazon yesterday. Already, I am loving the quiet and calm of it.

My inspiration for writing, that is my inspiration for making up stories, comes again from my dreams, but this time it is more like daydreams. I love mending hearts and friendships, finding love, creating happily ever afters. Yep, I’m a true sap. Not that I don’t give my characters a helluva hard time getting to their happy ending, but I just love the feeling of being cozy and content. I love small towns and everyday magic. I love… love.

My current batch of WIPs (yes, there is always more than one on the go) are a mix of romance and magical realism, all set in small towns, and all with a coziness to them. To me, the feeling is like that of curling up under a hand-sewn quilt with a cup of Sleepytime Tea. Bliss.

The inspiration to write for me, right now at least, it is the knowledge that I have come in terribly short in the 100k in 100 Days challenge and that I have another chance, so to speak, with Camp NaNo. I also find myself pinning pictures to my WIP boards on Pinterest and reading stories similar to what I aspire to write in bed before I go to sleep. I also like to mock up covers and pictures with quotes.

I dream of when I can spend my days in yoga pants and slippers (to be fair, I do spend most of my day in slippers—I hate wearing heels around my office) and write to my heart’s content. And take afternoon runs—or naps, if I so please. And just be content.

What inspires you to write? And what inspires your stories?

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