My Characters Get By With Murder

Last night, after I had spent a long day with a stubborn geriatric convalescent, I opened my work in progress and began to get back into the story. I hadn’t written anything new all day and I was in some major withdrawal. My fingers itched to tap out more riveting plot. As I sat down and opened my Mac, it smacked me right between the eyes. I still hadn’t decided who my villain was and the obvious choice had literally been right at my fingertips all along. I should have sighed with relief, but I had a big problem. I had written this character too nice. Yeah, that’s right. The villain had too many redeeming character traits. So what’s a writer to do? Of course, I had to go back and scan my manuscript looking for places where I needed to nasty him up. After that, the plot began to shine with the sparkle of suspense that had been lacking.

Don’t get me wrong. I often let my characters get by with murder. Literally. A lot of them have killed at least one person, maybe more. But I like to add a little depth to my villains. I love to give them just one redeeming quality so they aren’t so one dimensional. To make them a little more, you know, human. But this guy? He was just way too nice and understanding and helpful. Something had to give. So you know what I did? I gave him a gun. Yep. That changed him into a detestable SOB pretty fast. Once he had the weapon in his hand, he didn’t hesitate to draw it on my heroine. Ah, did the universe just realign into proper balance? I think it did.

I’m a pantser. I decide where my story begins and where it ends when I start a manuscript. But after that? I fly by the seat of my pants. Or rather sit at my makeshift desk, which is really just my coffee table pushed up close to my sofa. My “office”. Since I quit that horrid day job the living room has become my favorite place to play…um…I mean work. Anyway, I digress.

Here’s my long-winded point… In between the beginning and the end, I allow my characters to develop their own personalities and character as the story progresses. I allow the action of the plot to proceed according to what my characters would do next based on their personalities. The story feeds my characterization. My characterization feeds my story. They feed each other. A symbiotic relationship. So I let my characters get by with a lot, even murder.

Can you can imagine how a story could get all janked up if one of the characters isn’t fulfilling his or her proper role? Heroes should be heroes, albeit sometimes a wee tad flawed. Heroines should be heroines, even if they have one or two character flaws they need to work on. I love letting my characters decide how they want to act and who they want to be, but sometimes I have to smack one around and make him (or her) play nasty.


Characters Acting Badly and #MyMuse That Contributes to Their Delinquency

Sometimes the life of a full time writer can be…well, lonely. I mean, when I’m writing, the only company I have are my characters. If they started talking to me, I mean verbally, I think I’d freak.

My muse whispers in my ear in the middle of the night, but that’s something else entirely. There is no accounting for what she might say or do. If you doubt it, check out these posts.

Here is what I think my muse might look like…

Picture in public domain. Courtesy wiki commons.

Sometimes my characters are sort of like real people, you know. Today one of them just wouldn’t cooperate with me. I wanted her to do one thing and she hauled off and did another. This one has a mind of her own. I gave her a good talking to but she wouldn’t listen. Had to have it her way. It amuses me for a while to argue with them, but it’s not the same as talking with a living, breathing individual. I think she forgets she’s fictional. Am I going to have to restrain her?

Maybe this device would work…

Drawing in public domain. Courtesy wiki commons.

Do you think that would keep her in line? I mean, my characters should be careful not to annoy me. I just bought this coffee mug…

Mug can be purchased at cafepress.com

This mug means what I say and says what I mean, you know what I mean? I’ve done some nasty things to my characters. I even impaled one bad guy on a dead tree before it caught on fire and fell over the side of cliff into a deep gorge. My characters should quiver in fear of my fast tapping fingers. And my muse should stop leading them down the path toward destruction. When I tell my heroine to call my hero and make up with him, that's exactly what she should do!


The Only Constant is Change

Who said it? The only constant in life is change. Okay, I Googled it. My paraphrase is a variation on a quote by Heraclitus, a philosopher who lived a bazillion years ago. He was right. I’ve lived long enough to understand the validity of his assertion.

Photo in Public Domain courtesy of Wiki Commons.

It seems after being in a happy state of equilibrium for nearly three decades my life has been in transition for several years now. First, I lost my father a few years ago. When I was young, he seemed like such a permanent fixture. Sometimes he was more in my life than I wanted. Now, I wish he was here to interfere. Funny, how time and change can change your perspective.

My husband had been with the same employer forever. The company made noises for years about closing the location where he worked. We didn’t even know if he’d be employed long enough to make it to retirement. He was so close. We didn’t know if he’d be able to find another job at his age. Another major change took place—transitioning from living under the shadow of his former employer for thirty years to my husband being both retired and employed with another company at the same time. That transition kept us in limbo for several years. I’m glad we are on the other side of that big change.

When I was young, I got a degree in accounting. I’ve always said I learned accounting as a skill to make some money so I could support my creative habits. My habits morphed into my passion. For several years, I was an accountant by day and a writer of romantic suspense by night. One of the happiest days of my life was signing my first publishing contract. But change has stirred the constants in this area of my life as well. An even larger publisher acquired my first publisher. During that transition, my life was in turmoil for a week or so until my status was settled with the new publisher. Now, I can happily say I’ve signed three publishing contracts with The Wild Rose Press and I am looking forward to my association with them.

Two weeks ago, I gave notice to my employer. Yesterday was my last day as an accountant. I’ve wanted to disappear from the workforce for several years so I could write full time. Over the years, it has been difficult dividing my energies between what I felt I had to do and what I felt compelled to do. Circumstances have allowed me the opportunity and given me the motivation to give being a stay at home writer my best effort.

Not all the changes in my life over the last few years have given me cause to happy dance, but life has a way of working around to the inevitable, so that I’ve settled into another state of equilibrium. I think Heraclitus is right. The only constant in life is change…and maybe that’s a good thing. It keeps life from becoming stale and boring. My life certainly hasn’t been boring, and I’ve learned not to expect my happy equilibrium to remain that way forever.

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