Those of you who know me personally, are aware that I lost my mother this week. She went in her slumber which is the most mercy I could have hoped for.
For months, I had been traveling to my parents house to help my father care for her as she was in hospice at home. It was both hard and extremely helpful in helping me to say goodbye to the most dynamic and amazing woman I've ever known.
We talked and grew closer during those difficult days. I shared with her my imaginary worlds in the books I was writing. And she cheered me on, as she always had, to do what I love.
Now as I struggle to help my father and brothers cope with the enormous loss of such a light in our lives, I hope to scrape together some semblance of continuity or routine in my own life.
I am striving to write despite the whirlwind of emotions I seem to be fighting to corral. As it always has been, my imagination is a welcome escape from what ails.
I wanted to say thank you to those who sent me messages and cards and just helped me feel like I wasn't alone in this. You are so wonderful!
This is difficult advice to take. Particularly after having characters in your head for years. When I finally get to that moment...I often look for ways to avert their death. But it is to no avail. If they must die. They must die.
On my current WIP I am dealing with a kind of slow death and it is far worse than the "rip the bandaid" off method I've used in the past.
They know its coming. They dread and embrace it. They run towards it at times to my horror. When I finally conjure those dark words on my paper it is both a terrible and wonderful moment.
I have to say it is unexpectedly freeing in some ways as well. Decision are far different and often much clearer when fear of death is off the table.
This is a weird time in my personal life and it is for some reason echoed in a plot I constructed long ago.
I hope to find some clarity in the creative process. It has always been a balm to my soul and I reach for it now.
So I'm rereading James Scott Bell's Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story because I read that and Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass EVERY TIME I begin a new project. I even have a Maass List where I check off elements of my story and the 14 Sign Posts list to make sure I'm hitting every beat of my novel.
I know...I'm a total Planner. My slightly OCD tendencies have been well noted and commented on by my crit partner, the illustrious Erin Kane Spock over at Spock Writes Romance. She is a Pantser through-and-through so you can imagine our conversations.
Something that really hit me this time though, while going over my notes, is the whole FACING DEATH thing that each character has to endure. Whether it is actual physical death, career death, or even psychological death...the lead in your book faces some permutation of it.
I mean, my main character stares down actual, grueling, torturous death in my series, but the death of her dream...her hope...that hits me harder. It changes her more than toughening to survive does. It steers her choices in a far greater way than just trying to stay alive.
Her character arc just got a new dimension and I hope to really explore that. This got me thinking about an idea for book journaling that I came across a while ago. I think its from Bell, but I can't be sure. Its a way to keep your character from sounding like a mini-you -- you write in their voice, the reasons why they do not want to take part in your story.
I was using it as an exercise to isolate the "argument against transformation" without knowing I'd have an epiphany about my main character. I had no idea that Charlotte was so broken over what she gives up that it was far worse for her than the prospect of death itself.
I encourage all of you authors out there to try a Character Journal and see what insights, if any, come out of it. I'd love to hear.