I can’t believe that I am not working night and day in getting the illustrations finished for A BED FOR LITTLE CUB so that I can just get on with writing the first draft of WYTHE’S END or THE WYTHES. I’m still trying out which title works best.
Instead of just painting my fingers off I am trying to wrap up a batch of paperwork that needs to be mailed off later on today. And once I finish with the paperwork at night I crawl in between the warm flannel sheets and guiltily spend time with the Wythes.
I’ve written three chapters in secret and cannot tell anyone or discuss them with anyone. Once I finish the illustrations then I can openly admit to having begun the writing of the first draft for this novel.
Here’s a writing trick I use each time I write a story, whether a picture book or a novel:
I have many reference file folders filled with photos, drawings, paintings, illustrations, etc. that I use for references. As I am getting to know the Wythes it helps to have a face/reference photo to put with the name. I have gone through my reference files and picked out the faces that best fit what I think the characters look like. With these faces in mind, along with the physical descriptions that I create for each character, it’s fairly easy to describe them, their clothes, and so on when writing about them in the story.
The only thing I have to be careful of is to not make all the men tall, dark, and handsome with thick beards! I do tend to do that. A lot.
The hardest photos to find are of the women I want to be in the story. I know in my mind what I think they should look like, but finding just the right reference photos has been a bit tricky. I can’t rush it and I will know the right face when I see it. In looking through photos of women it did strike me that for the story it would be better if the murder mystery writing aunts are GREAT aunts and more elderly. This just gives them more character, more eccentricities than two nice looking women in their mid-40s. Therefore, I decided that if the grandparents are in their late 70s and early 80s, the great aunts could easily be in their early or mid-70s as well.
The nice thing about having older characters in a story is that they can “reminisce” about the old days when they were young and life was simpler. Of course, when you have elderly quirky characters it helps to have photos of them as young people to show how handsome or beautiful they were then. The great aunts are no longer sisters, but will be partners. In many ways partners and lovers are much closer than siblings. And it is fun to have the allude to their relationship as older spinsters rather than be as openly out and gay as the uncles, who are much younger.
Of course, everyone in the family know the great aunts are lesbians, but it’s never discussed. Not that the family has any problem with their sexuality, but the great aunts themselves just like to keep their sex lives very private.
Naturally, John is Uncle Bertram and Uncle Myles is an unknown handsome face that I found. MY likeness will be used for that of Uncle Tobias, who is a bit more cantankerous and demanding. He’s the “Dutch” uncle of the family, you might say.
The Wythes are taking shape more and more with each passage that I write. Their story comes easily and once a scene/chapter is being written I just let it take me wherever it wants to go knowing that at some point the chapter has to end with a slight cliffhanger.