Tuesday, May 19, 2009

With a little help.. or hindrance... from my friends

"Sammy, shush, I've already told your story. Yes, I know it wasn't a long story and you have more to say. Patience my pet." Gazing at the blank screen, I knew I had to write something, and soon.

'Write about me,' Sam mutters quietly into my ear.

"No, I can't write about you. It's got to be a paranormal this time." I admonished the purple clad character. "Why don't you go and see if Cyn needs anything."

'She doesn't. She at home with that man of hers.'

"Well, you should be with yours. I'm sure Greg would love the company." Greg was Sammy's fella. They'd moved in together and that was the story Sammy wanted me to write. Ugh!

'What about me,' grumbled Rose, her scarred fingers pointing towards herself. 'I definitely have more story to tell. It's been months, Hell, years since you worked with me.'

"Yes, sweetie, I know and I definitely want to get to you, very soon. But, I really have to--"

'Have to what? Create new characters, new stories, new plots and scenarios? But, you have more to say about me...us!'

Rose was definitely pissed, as she should be. It had been way too long since I spent any time with her.

I read the call for submissions again, and wondered why I'd volunteered to write for this one. I knew nothing about the seamier side of San Francisco. I'd only been there for part of one day.

'I've been there,' yelled Amber, yet one more character who thought needed more story time. 'That's where that bastard Tony snagged me.'

"That wasn't San Francisco," I glared at...nothing and cringed. Bugger, I was beginning to fall into these conversations a little too easily of late.

I left the computer room and went for more coffee. Maybe I needed to get out for awhile. It'd been weeks since I just walked the beach or even watched an entire movie without letting 'those guys' distract me.

Today was like any other. I got up, did my morning routine, fed the birds and took Meg, my sister in laws dog out for her morning pee. Played with her for a little bit then got the computer going. Coffee in hand, I went through the usual avalanche of email and messages.

After yacking with my writing partner about some FANTASTIC news we got earlier, it was time to get busy. That's pretty much how most of my mornings go. Okay, Meg doesn't live here, but the rest is fairly typical. It's that blank page that intimidates me. I have ideas enough to fill a truck, but how to begin is always daunting. That first sentence. Does it work? Add another and read them. Delete words, add others. Save. Add another sentence or two, three, a paragraph, a page.

Going back to the beginning, time after time, re-writing, trashing, slashing, wondering if I really have a clue what Im doing. Doubting it, myself. What the HELL do I think I'm doing?

The idea forms, solidifies. Time to actually come up with a rough draft, a concept of where this stinking story is going. I'm liable to wind up in the bay diving for some treasure that's not there. Synapsis, yeah, that's it. Do a synopsis so I can follow it and actually write the thing. Chapter by chapter, that's how I like to do these. I keep it flexible, but it gives me the direction.

That first page might work. Might not. Hate the names, but I'll change those until they fit. Characters have to fit their names you know. Ask Sammy, his name changed a dozen times before I liked it, and he wasn't even the main character.

'Yeah, I thought Cyn was going to strangle you,' he piped up from behind me.

"Yeah well, I had no idea you were going to be so damn pushy either. I thought you were a whishy washy type."

'Me? Do I look like the wishy washy type?' He prances around to the center of the room and strikes a pose. Purple suit, ruffles at collar and cuff.

I peered at him and smiled. "Sammy, you look like a queer with a penchants for flamboyance. Nothing wishy washy about you."

'Which is exactly me.'

"Go see Greg, would you? I really need to get busy here."

Poof, and Sammy is gone, for now.

See, this is how things happen for me. I'd like to think I was organized. Sometimes I am, just not about writing. I do like to get some form of outline done for longer works. I have a lousy memory for eye colors, furniture placement and such. I have been known to keep a spread sheet going for that kind of thing. It helps. When you add the number of characters I've helped create over the years, I find it next to impossible to keep them all straight. Yet, I often remember things about them and wonder how their lives are going. Are Sammy and Greg really as happy as I left them. Did Rose find peace? Are the changelings all right. Jamie, do they bother you like they do me?

I do keep a schedule of sorts so I don't volunteer for two things that need to be done at the same time. Other than that, I panic a lot. The actual process is different each time. Different characters bother me, different scenarios present themselves. It's always new. Always fresh, and I love every moment of it.

I had a teacher in high school tell me that all serious writers are crazy. I wonder if he's right? What do you think?


  1. Crazy? Absolutely. At least a little bit. You and I are, anyway. *G*

    Most of my characters don't bother me (I figure those changelings are off having great sex since we paired them all up so nicely!) The ones who bother me are the unfinished stories. I've had a man and woman with arms folded, tapping their toes, staring at me for months, now. So many stories, so little writing time. But, I have a feeling time is like kitchen cabinet space. I always say I want more, and when I get it, pretty soon it's all filled up, too.

    Great post, Jude. Tell Sammy to take up knitting. You have a schedule to stick to. heh heh heh


  2. Great post Jude.

    I get characters coming back to visit me at times too - some just accept their happy ending and get on with things on their own, but some just go on and on.

    If I've had to cut a scene to get under a word count it's even worse, they want everyone to know what they did in that bit of the story and I'm pretty sure some of them are never going to give up making their entire life stories public knowledge.

    It's interesting that you and Jamie both do synopsises before you start. The best I can manage is one tiny bullet point per chapter :)

    Kim Dare.

  3. Super post, Jude, and so true. Well, I mean, don't all authors talk to their characters, cry with their heartaches and live in their fantasy world. Right now, I'm looking for the town my characters live in, because guaranteed if I find it, I'm moving there!

  4. Hi Jamie,

    Mine don't bother me all the time. They seem to wait until I'm beginning something new or struggling. It's like they're plotting in the background. LOL

    About the so many stories, so little time. I seem to go from scratching my head, wondering what to do next, with Sammy tapping his toe, to overwhelmed with deadlines or things I want to write. Now is a prime example of OMG I'll never have time to sleep. LOL I won't complain though.


  5. Hi Kim,

    Yes, cutting scenes can drive characters nuts. LOL I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has them bugging me about that. Sheesh, it's like they want every lil detail out there for their public.

    About synopsis's. Sometimes I'll have that done before I write a story or book. Other times I'll have something like you, a point form really rough idea of where I'm going. What I have done with that, and really like the best, is to add to it as I write. I'll send that in as my synopsis...okay, I'll clean it then send it. LOL

    Thanks so much for stopping in!


  6. Hi Barbara,

    Oh, yes! I would so love to move to the tiny village where Joshua Lansing lives. If I ever see it, I'll be there in a flash. LOL

    Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I guess it's true, we're all a bit 'touched'.


  7. Personally I feel sanity and fiction writing don't go together. I actually planned to post something real brilliant and witty here, but find myself completely distracted by the cover to my right - the Spank Me Once. All I can do is keep focusing on the guy's tush and feel the urge to cover his other cheek with MY lips, I mean - handprint. I'll try and come back when I'm not so distracted. :)

  8. Ann,

    Oh, the cover. Isn't he pretty? That hand print. Well, it's mine. Hehehe!

    Okay, so maybe that's just a touch of fantasy, but a girl can dream, right? The next cover, Spank Me Twice, will be up as soon as I can get a link. It's just as... pretty. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by Ann.


  9. Hi Jude,

    I think you are very sain, I'm not a writer but, I could be with all the books I read. People screaming in your head wanting to get out and be heard. I hear that everyday! You just go and do your thang!

  10. My characters don't talk to me--but they sure give me a nudge now and then.

    I'm in the middle of a big ghost writing project and also at the most exciting part of my w-i-p. Having a hard time staying away from my own work. As a matter of fact, think I'll steal away and write a few pages on it right now....

    Marilyn a.k.a. F.M. Meredith

  11. Judie,

    Huge hugs. Thank you. So glad you stopped by and left a comment. You know, I've been in discussions with people about sanity. I mean who defines it? It's supposed to be 'what's considered rational by society' or something like that. But, five hundred years ago, society would have said the world was flat. Hehehe!


  12. Hi Marilyn,

    Nudging is good. LOL Thanks so much for dropping in. I hope you got lots written.


  13. Sanity is overrated. I write humor and short stories. I get bugged by other things, like talking coffee cups or war between planet Arabica (as in the coffee bean), and Liptonea. For me all it takes is a word or two, then I get a title, from that, the opening, then the story writes itself.

    Check my blog to see what normal is not.

  14. Hi Ron,

    Okay, I admit it, I looked at my coffee cup then.

    Lovely blog, you've got some great stuff there. Thanks so much for dropping in, not literally, but... oh hell.


  15. Hey Jude

    Yeah, I think most writers are a little crazy. On teh other hand, I think most people are a little crazy.

    I know what you mean about wondering how things turned out for your characters. I think that's the sign of a good story, you sort of hope that things worked out well for them after the story finished. I hope that Guy Montag got his library and Othello and Desdemona worked things out and so on. Good post!


  16. LOL, Jude. This is so typical. And yes, I think all writers are a bit off center. Some more than others. :-)

  17. Piping in a little late... Crazy? Me? No way...

    I wish sometimes that my characters would talk to me. Usually they don't. When they do, that's a good sign. But most of the time I have to coax them.

    Maybe they're just not as pushy as yours! I've certainly read lots of other writers describing a similar phenomenon.


  18. Maryann,

    I like that, off center. A bit like a few degrees off plumb... LOL Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm glad you got a chuckle from the post.


  19. Lisabet,

    Yes, sorry dear, but you are. Mad as the proverbial hatter. Hehehe!

    There are times when I wonder what it would be like if they didn't nudge, cajole, whine, annoy me. But I can't think about it for long. It would be so incredibly quiet. That, I think, would be insane.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.