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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I printed out a hard copy of the novella to read today. All the big changes are done, but I'll make one more pass today to see if there are more opportunities to layer stuff in and to make sure I hit everything I needed to. I guess I'll spend Thursday trying to get this thing into some kind of order to email to my editor. This is going to be one of the uglier revisions to send back because I changed so much in so many different places.

I really like Kimi and Nic. Well, I like all my characters, I couldn't write about people I didn't enjoy spending time with. Maybe I guess I should say I like the revisions I made because they brought out more of who Kimi and Nic are. When I wrote the novella back in June, I was pressing hard on another deadline and I thought I only had 80 manuscript pages to work with. (I came in at 87 pages.) It was after I got the contract that I realized I could have had more space, so I didn't worry about that as I revised and I added what I needed to. (I'm at 99 pages now.)

But I wonder, do other writers sit there and think, wow, these are cool people; I'm glad I got to write them? Or is it because I'm such a character-driven writer?

You see, I don't create my characters. They come in as fully-formed people. My only job is to get to know them and to listen to them. I love getting to know my heroes and heroines. Some of them will show/tell me all kinds of things. Some are reticent and I have to push them or quiz their friends and families. I've had characters lie to me. I've had characters refuse to tell me their names. I've had characters who like to play with me. See why my motto is Torture the characters before they torture me?

But despite all the grief they give me, there hasn't been one hero or heroine that I haven't genuinely liked. They're why I keep writing when I'm so tired I'm falling asleep sitting up. I want to know what happens to them. I want to see how they find forever together. And I'm totally fascinated by their different relationships. I enjoy watching them change and grow so that they can accept love and live HEA.

My stories revolve around my characters. If there's something I want to do in the story, but the characters won't do it, they win. (Of course, they refuse to let me move forward if I do something with them that they don't want to do so it's kind of a moot point.) At the same time, if there's something they want me to do that I'm not comfortable with, I'll do it anyway. (Which I did in the novel I turned in back in June. I've also got softer alternatives ready to go for the two scenes that might be too much.)

I read a book a few years back that became an absolute wall banger. It was by an author I'd read occasionally in the past and had enjoyed, but after this book, I'll never read her again. She sacrificed who her characters were for her convenience and to stick to the plot she wanted to use. The hero acted completely out of character, doing something so stupid at the midpoint of the book, I was like, huh? Before this, the man had come across as savvy and intelligent. The heroine, too, does something completely stupid so that the author can have her dramatic conclusion. Throw in a little convenient coincidence just for good measure. Gah!

Bottom line for me is stay true to the characters--always. If it messes up your neatly plotted story, then go back and replot, but do not force the characters to behave in a way that isn't right for them. It's all about the characters.