Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Money Talks and So Do Characters. Sometimes.

Have you ever heard an author say their characters talked to them? Said “Hey, my story needs to be told and would ya get yer fanny in the chair and write it?”

sigh Mine never do that.

Anyway, thanks to friends and family I received several gift cards for my birthday last week (along with a beautiful plush throw from the Playfriends). The one from a major bookstore is a no brainer. Linda Howard’s INFERNO comes out next Tuesday and since I learned last Saturday that my granddaughter is crazy over Elmo, there will probably be an Elmo book or DVD in my basket as well.

It’s the other gift card I’m angsting over. It’s from a home accessories store that I love. Usually I walk in there and see any number of things I want. I went in today and saw any number of things I want. But together they total way more than the gift card. I have to pick one item. O-N-E.

I’m sure the sales clerk thought I was casing the place because I covered every square inch of the store twice – or maybe three times – examining every shelf and display unit. They have their spring items out. And they have some great sales going on. But which should I buy? The large vase to sit on the floor in my office? The plant stand that would look great on my front porch with the Boston fern? A solar light for the back patio? A Vera Bradley-type purse? Cast iron bird feeder, art for my laundry room (hey… I want that room to look nice too), a wasp catcher?

I couldn’t decide anything except decide to come home and look around and see which item (or depending on which I get, I could get two items) I want most. Money talks, but sometimes it says too many things at one time and I can’t hear a thing.

When you don’t have a dime, you can think of a dozen things to buy. But when money’s burning a hole in your pocket, it’s hard to make a decision.

When a story comes to mind, it won’t always translate from the brain to the page.

When your heroine is too stupid to live, you can’t always make her change. Well, you can, but she might fight you all the way.

When your hero is an arrogant, uncaring a$$hole, he defies your efforts to turn him into a nice guy.

This is Sam.

This is Julianne.

They are on an eight-day motorcoach trip in Mexico and end up as seat mates on the bus. She's taking her first vacation in way too long and had her heart broken and her trust destroyed by her ex-husband. Sam's also taking a much-needed vacation and kinda fibs a little when Julianne asks him what he does for a living. He's not being deliberatly deceitful; he just doesn't want people asking for free advice 24/7.

These two people are supposed to be talking to me.

They aren't.



Rhonda said...

When my characters aren't talking to me it's usually because they are having sex.

LOL, just kidding. Sort of.

In all seriousness, sometimes it just takes them a little longer to find a voice. There's a key component--a character trait of some sort usually--missing that unlocks the babble. In my experience, nothing but patience makes it work.

But it'll come, PM. Don't worry. :-)

Problem Child said...

Because they're too busy admiring your lovely blankie...

Instigator said...

Have you sat them down for a chat? Sometimes characters don't talk because that's the way they are - kinda like my husband - and you just have to keep poking at them until they throw their hands up and push back.


Playground Monitor said...

I walked into my office this morning and they were having sex under my lovely blankie. Oh, the horror!


Smarty Pants said...

I know the name of a great dry cleaner...

Angel said...

You guys are nuts!!!! Y'all are having all the fun while I'm dealing with real estate agents, clients, and plumbers. No fun whatsoever, let me tell ya!

It took me a really long time to "hear" my characters. And when I do, we aren't having conversations. I just close my eyes, visualize the beginning of the scene or whatever they are doing, and listen. First I usually hear snatches of dialogue... Then the scene gets fuller and more rich. I feel their movements, sense emotions behind the words. Sort of like a movie going from blurry to clear.

At least, that's how it works for me. And like Rhonda said, patience is the only way to get there.

Kathy said...

Maybe they need a little atmosphere. Some Isaac Hayes, for instance. Oh, they don't really need help in this respect, do they? They've already used the blankee. :-) Anyway, atmosphere really helps stimulate thoughts. Find the right music or watch a tv program or movie related to your story. You just might see or hear something that triggers a response to what you think is missing. Good luck!

And, I didn't mean for your decisions at K's to be so hard, PM. But get the same way when I go there.


Edie said...

I'm going with what Rhonda says too. Keep writing and it will come. I sat down once, pen and notebook in hand, and started writing from a character's pov--whatever spilled out. Things spilled out that I never thought of myself. As if it really came from this person.

I tried it with my next book, and nothing came. *shrug*