Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Swimming In Dangerous Waters

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The day I had feared had finally arrived.  The day had come when Danny, my SO, asked to read a few chapters of my novel.  Why did that request make my knees shake, my hands tremble and my stomach drop to the floor?

Because, my friends, when I started writing an outline for the novel, my characters were chosen based on people in my life.  I knew that I would be swimming in some very dangerous waters. Danny is all over the first chapters of the novel and he reappears in future chapters.  Although I changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent man in my life, no-one who knows Danny will have a problem recognizing him.

I knew the risk of using people around me as characters in my book.  They might not be able to take a joke, or appreciate the fact that I took their individual quirks and put them into print.  Some of my characters are a mix of different people.  I’ve taken a little creative license with their personalities and made them into the type of characters I needed to make my novel work.

But, how else does a writer find the characters necessary to make their novel interesting?  We can put all the events into place, but if the reader doesn’t like the characters, you’ve got nothing.  Readers need someone they want to cheer on or sympathize with.  The characters make the book; the events are their playground to strut their stuff.  And the best source of finding these characters is right in your own backyard.

So, yes, writing characters that use or resemble the people around you might have you swimming in dangerous waters.  But, it’s worth the risk because you know these people and can use them to your advantage.  Just be sure to change the names!

Danny read the first two chapters, chuckled in a few places and handed the pages back to me.  “Did you like it?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I’m not grouchy,” he replied, smiling.  Yeah, right!  Whatever!

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Living In A Different Head

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I think I’m in trouble.  I’m not quite myself lately, my thoughts are traveling in different directions and it feels like I’m living in a different head.

As some of you know, I’m writing a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo, and it is my first attempt to complete such an ambitious task.  But, that’s not my problem, that’s not what has my head spinning.

As with any novel, I have developed some characters and it’s the main character that is taking over my life.  It’s a woman and at first, all I knew of her was her name.  But, with each chapter, I am learning more and more about her.  Her strengths, her weaknesses, her quirky outlook on life are all becoming clearer to me.  She’s taking a journey and I’m on the ride right there with her.

In order to learn about her, I have to live in her head.  I have to do that so I can discover more about her and how she would react to certain events.  What would she think about a certain character; how would she handle a certain situation?  From things I’ve been told, it’s a normal process when you develop your characters to put something of yourself into them.  My character is a piece of myself and more..much more.  She’s small but she’s learning to live big…and as she learns about herself, I am learning from her.

Living in a different head has its price.  My man is looking at me wondering if I need professional help.  He watches as my eyes become glazed or I start chuckling for no reason, when I come to a dead stop while washing dishes or sweeping the floor and become lost in another world.

I’ve lost sleep; she travels often at night and drags me with her on her adventures. The words “Did you hear what I said?” are repeated throughout the day and a far-a-way look has become a constant sight for my poor guy.  But, he doesn’t know that I’m away for the moment, experiencing a new event, a new challenge, a new surprise, a new discovery about my character.

So, until the novel is finished and our journey has ended, I will continue to live in a different head.  But, that’s all right with me!  It’s a hell of a ride!

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