Characters Really Do Have a Voice


I am now in Dearborn, Michigan finally seeing John, whom I haven’t seen since mid-July.  We both needed to be together and have been fighting off feeling in a funk because of the long separation.   I unpacked the studio work and have everything set up in my studio here to FINALLY get the illustrations finished for A BED FOR LITTLE CUB.

I read two chapters from WYTHE’S END to John and he really likes the story and characters!   This was the first time I read the writing myself since having written it.  And, I must admit that the writing is pretty good.  Definitely needs some polishing and revising, but overall, the flow of the narrative and dialogue really works nicely.  Believable and interesting with just the right among of description so as to not slow down the action.

It’s interesting how each character really does have their own voice.  Once I propel them off onto a journey or scene their dialogue, the words they say, and how they say them, just come out in their voice, not mine.  For me it really does feel like I’m simply recording a conversation that they would have among themselves.

The Road Map that I wrote out gives me the guideposts I need so that I know roughly where the storyline should be heading.  But, I don’t let the Road Map bind me to one route.   Unexpected twists and turns that appear take the story and the characters into scenes that I had not planned on.  And I just let them go with the flow of the story and see where it takes them.

Dialogue is the easiest part of the writing.  It also brings the scenes and action into sharper focus.  I tend to be more of a ‘descriptive’ writer but I’m discovering that dialogue can cover a lot more territory in a more interesting way.   I simply trust the characters and let them speak for themselves.

The most difficult part is making certain that I plant the right clues and hints as to how Phineas is proceeding with uncovering the family’s deep, dark secret.  I figured out early on that by talking to other family members, the older ones, makes this plot foreshadowing work much more easily rather than having him plodding along on his own all the time.

I love this story!   I can’t believe that I’ve already written 175 pages in rapid fire succession.   Another odd thing about writing this novel is that I don’t write in chronological sequential order.  I have the Road Map and each chapter has its own Word document.  I have a basic understanding as to what should happen in any given chapter and find it easy to connect the thread of the story to preceding chapters and chapters that come later that I’ve already written. Each chapter is almost a self-contained short story that is tied to the overall plot.

And, of course, I have my favorite chapters that I can’t wait to write!

Meanwhile, I am pleased to report that I received my very first royalty check for the first novel that I self-published on Amazon!  I was thrilled!   Apparently, the novel is picking up a following and readership without any help from me.  The novel isn’t published under my own name so it depends on word-of-mouth to attract readers.   I think I can how it could be possible to publish my own novels if, for whatever reason, I can’t sell them to publishers.  And being published under my own name will probably help sell more copies than I might expect.

Lesson learned:  Listen to your characters.  Let their voices direct the narrative and move the action along at a pace that suits them, not you, the writer.

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