Sunday, July 18, 2010

How Do You Know for Sure?

Over the last week or so, I've started one or two....all right, maybe three more stories to add to my growing collection of beginnings and middles I have on my hard drive and memory sticks. Don't ask me why I started these, other than because they were running around in my head and I thought...yeah, now is the time. In both instances, the stories I envisioned are not the ones getting onto the screen.

I've often heard, over the course of my writing career, that if a particular idea or character takes you in a certain direction to just go with it. That the story you come out with will be better than one you're trying to stuff them into. All right, fine, I agree with that. But what if the idea is good and has merit, but the characters you selected just don't want to act the way they should? Case in point. I have one story that is about a woman who begins an affair with a man ten years her junior after she has a very bitter and painful divorce. (she's 35, the new lover is 25)

Well, the way I envisioned the book at first was as a story of lust and hot new beginnings, what I'm getting is this brand new divorcee's snarky attitude and disillusionment, while trying to put her life back together. Some of the lines I've written have been pretty damn funny, but that wasn't the way I wanted her to be. Does it work? Yes, probably better than it would have before. Instead of sitting back and being the victim of her husband's philandering, she takes life by the balls and swings it around to fit her new life. By not letting life happen to her, and letting her happen to life, I think I've empowered the character more than she ever appeared to be in my original concept.

I like it. I think it's better. I can still make it hot, but also make it hot with a bit of fun. My heroine isn't going to get lead around by a man 10 years younger who thinks he can teach her something, but instead they meet as two people who are equals, but years apart. That age is really just a number. For her, it's also a bit of revenge. Going out with a younger, hunky buck that's crazy about her, is a good way to rub her ex's nose in her new life.

But my question is how do you know the new direction is the right one for your story? Well, as I said there are some definate positives to letting the story tell itself in this case. so I'll go with it.

The other story is quite different in that it was slated to be a sci-fi menage treasure hunt. Well, I've got the two heros. check. Sci-fi setting. Check. Treasure their hunting. Check. Fiesty heroine. Check. Menage love story. *insert sounds of squeeling brakes here* Um. No.

My characters refused- absolutely with no chance for discussion- refused to go there. Are you kidding me? I'm the writer. I control you. Dance my, puppets! DANCE!!!
They looked at me, particularly hero 2, as if I'd lost my ever-loving mind. No, says he, I don't share. Ever! Well, O.K. I guess they told me. Hero 2 went on to tell me he wants his own heroine in a sequel. Great. Just great. I have forty thousands pieces parts of stories here to write and you want to hang another series on me. I love you right back, buddy.

So, my only story for a menage went right out the window. Not that the story for the Battle of the Sexes theme has to be, but I thought it'd be fun. Now, I'm like, great I've got nuthin'.

In that case, I definately knew for sure. The characters just weren't going there. And the heroine bursts into the first scene getting into a bar fight with a bunch of non-humanoids in a dive bar on some backwater planet. Oh, great. This is like the last woman who'd do anything I told her to do. She'd probably shoot me in the eye with her stunner, and watch my body twitch as she stepped over me on her way out of the scene. So, I struck a bargain with her. Just keep giving me the funny one-liners and I'd let her have the hero of her choice. She chose the one I really wouldn't have expected of her. The one with the snake-charmer smile and perfect teeth. Somehow I thought she'd go for the rugged one with the scar on his face and few words on his tongue. Sigh. Oh, well. It's probably best this way. I think he needs someone he feels he can protect. Someone who needs him as much as he needs them.

So, again, I'll let the story do the talking and I'll sit back and take dictation for them. Somehow, I never thought when I started this journey as a writer that I'd be acting as secretary for a bunch of characters I created. But hey, as long as they make me money, I don't really care how it gets done.

So, how do you know for sure if you've taken the right direction when a character or plot waylays you?



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