Saturday, October 25, 2008

Witchy Woman

Let's be honest. It's a whole bunch of fun to create characters who always say and do the right things. And even when they say and do the wrong things, it's because you made them that way.
Writing is like casting the ultimate spell. We have the power to turn our craziest fantasies into fiction. Dress up our protagonists in costumes. We have so much more control over our heroes and heroines than we do our kids or significant others or our friends. I suppose in some ways writing is like playing dolls or "let's pretend" for grown-ups.
As a kid, I'd go into my family's only bathroom and imagine all sorts of scenarios. It was the only room with a lock in the house. Needless to say, I did not make myself too popular with the three other people who lived there. But in my wildest imagination, I never would have foreseen that umpty-ump years later, I'd be writing books. I used to get criticized for "dreaming." Now I consider it my job to dream.
Still, it's not always easy to get your characters to cooperate fully. Sometimes they have dreams of their own. They surprise you on the page. They say things you didn't think of. They even change their names. Take Sir Michael Xavier de Bayard in Mistress by Mistake. He just didn't like the"de." Too French. He fought the Frogs valiantly in the Peninsular War and was going to distance himself, no matter his Norman ancestry. He's now just Sir Michael Xavier Bayard, Bay to his friends.
He was Major Sir Michael Xavier de Bayard to me long before he ever consented to be in the current book---originally he was supposed to escort a freckled young widow and her teenage pupil from India to England in quite another story, but he was having none of that. The logistics were onerous. There were going to be elephants. Uprisings. Swarms of locusts. Desert sands. Altogether too much research about Mr. Waghorn's overland route. The teenage pupil had designs on him too, and he thought that was awkward and undignified. He has now happily retired from the army and has a fine oceanfront property in Dorset, where he is busy falling in love with his new heroine Charlotte Fallon, who is not the freckled young widow Delia Winters at all. I think we all share the relief except for the naughty schoolgirl Alice, who was last seen in her shift up in a banyan tree in the seventeen abandoned unnamed pages where she and Major Sir Michael and Delia made their ill-fated debut.
So, how are your love potions bubbling along? Is your wand working or do you want to recharge the batteries? Are your characters behaving? Time to bitch, witches. And have a Happy Halloween!


Tiffany Clare said...

It's interesting to 'recycle' characters that way. I haven't done it yet. But I think I will. Some character I want to pair with people, and they just aren't having it, so they go in the back of my mind, at least till I've found their counterpart!

J.K. Coi said...

This is a great post Maggie! I love how our characters begin to have such a strong voice inside us that they can even dictate the where, the when, the who...

For me, when I start, I think of the general idea first, so right now I'm falling in love with my new sci-fi tale and the more I think about it, the more my characters are starting to come forward and make demands. It's cool, but I actually hadn't planned to write this book just yet so I'm not sure what to do. I guess I should go with it, but I have other projects to finish. We'll have to see who starts badgering me the hardest.

Elyssa Papa said...

I love the post, Maggie! My characters speak loudly to me, particularly Aubry. He definitely clamored for his story to be told and made me rewrite a scene where he threw flowers because that made him look like he was throwing a fit. And he does not throw "fits."

I recycled the many brothers idea that I had for one heroine and gave them to this new heroine. I also had planned another book to take place in Vermont but that so was not happening. And I thought oh well, winter book never happening until Aubry was outside in the snow being miserable.

Maybe writing is a safer way to say we all have multiple personality disorder! LOL.

Kelly Krysten said...

Um...I had such a wonderful post but blogger ate it.:(

...My current WIP was originally set in the regency, my hero was in the army and was in love with my heroine's cousin.

Now my story is set in the early victorian era, my hero is a former stable boy who makes his fortune in America and is in love with my heroine's sister- luckily he gets over that rather quickly.

Great blog!

Janga said...

The hero of my first book spoke so loudly that sometimes I tried to silence him. I tied to turn him into an alpha, but he refused the transformation, ignoring all my pleas to think of the market. In my current WIP, the hero is a decidedly unheroic character from the first book. I had someone very different in mind as my hero, and then Caleb said, "Hey, wait a minute. That lady is mine."

Some people may think we are crazy, but our lives will never be boring as long as we hear the voices in our heads and in our dreams, Maggie. :)

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Right you are, Janga. :)Never have I felt so happy to be "Sibyl"--that goes for my choice of genres, too!

Kelly, I see another Lisa Kleypas in the making!

JK, go with it! Those pushy people must be obeyed.

Tiff, I'm still waiting for Frederic. ;)

Ely,naughty Aubry. I want more!

Terri Osburn said...

This reminds me of the trouble I had in June. I tried writing one particular scene at least four times. Everytime it opened with the heroine being late for work, but the thing just didn't work. Finally, I got the idea to write the scene with her being on time and low and behold, it worked. Celi just refused to be late! *sigh* I do wish she would have told me this sooner.

I'd like to think I'm in control of the wand, so to speak, but most of the time I'm just the court reporting working the keys.

Great topic, as usual. I haven't gotten to the point of recycling characters yet, but I do have this one office bimbo that got deleted from the front part of the current WIP. I'm thinking she's likely going to find a home in the romantic comedy that is brewing. Or maybe that para/chick-lit with the ghost. LOL!