As most of you can testify, I usually don't write in caps. This time, I did. Why? Because it's important to me that you get my message this week. After a decade and a half of writing and struggling to become a published author, I've come to the conclusion that there are a few things a writer can do that will make her/him successful. Looking back, this is chief among them.
To write a character into the imaginary world you create, you must be 'in the skin' of your person. That means you have to know how they think, how they feel, how they will respond to things that go wrong in their lives. What will they do when their plan goes awry, when they fail at whatever they've tried to succeed at, when their best friend betrays them?
Remember, it's when things go wrong that a drama takes flight. All's well is so ho hum, though a bunch of it is necessary to keep the drama from becoing frenetic. But when things go bad, your hero goes into action. Knowing what that action will be is key to the success of your most ardent plotting. How does it feel to love a man and walk into a room to find him making love to your worst enemy? To count on a woman to bail you out of a serious situation, only to learn that she's the one who put you there?
My advice; write the 'book' on each main character. Go to school on them and take copious notes. Then, DO NOT (note the caps again) under any circumstances turn what you've learned into an info dump in the middle of your novel! Use what you need, as you need it, and save the rest for your memoirs. Know more than your reader needs to know about your character and you have the makingss of a great hero.
That's my take on it. What's yours?
Today, I want to share another of my character chats with you. Then I hope you will stick around for the fourth excerpt from my upcoming book: SLEEPING WITH HER ENEMY.
It’s the guys turn so we have Dan Morrison (Sleeping with her Enemy), Laz (A Girl’s Best Friend) also known as Rick Diamond, and Matt Riley (Don’t Bet On It). All three had to overcome negative reputations to win out in their stories. Fortunately, all are strong men with plenty of guts and determination. Dan, Rick, and Matt visit with Pat Dale, and give him a bit of a hard time.
Pat: Welcome, gentlemen. Thanks for dropping by to chat with me today.
Dan: Glad to be here, though I should be upset. You darn near got me sent to prison. Why did you do that?
Pat: Sorry, Dan. I didn’t originally plan to, but when I realized Ana had to find your car in that old shed, I was stuck. I could have let you off easy, I suppose. What then might have been because Ana was cheated out of the truth of what happened to her little boy? Would that have been more fair?
Dan: I guess not. Oh well, all’s well that ends well. And I am thankful for the end you came up with.
Pat: (puts finger to lips) Shhh. Don’t give it away. SLEEPING WITH HER ENEMY is not due to be released by Muse Publishing for two more weeks.
Dan: Oh, sorry.
Matt: What about my storybook ending? I don’t mind admitting it came out a lot better for me than I’d envisioned when I dived into the flaming water to save that crazy Bud. Even while I was pulling him out of that fire and into Howie’s boat, part of me wanted to knock him in the head and let him burn.
Pat: Wow! He must have got to you more than I realized when I created that scene where he went bonkers.
Matt: Are you nuts? I know my character profile called for me to be cool and calm, but I was anything but that. Especially when he abducted Casssie and I thought he might kill her before I caught him.
Laz: Hey! You sound like you should have been in my line of work.
Matt: What line was that, Laz?
Laz: Deep cover spook service, courtesy of a C.I.A. brainstorm, or C.Y.A. as I called them. I played the part of a diplomat traveling all over the globe, collecting intelligence data for my country. And occasionally mixing it up with various enemy agents.
Pat: (laughs, but hesitates when the others just stare at him) What? You guys jealous that Laz got all the glory for solving the mystery I set up for him?
Dan: Jealous! He just about got himself fried on that damn boat. And then blown to bits in that old Mustang. Why would a sane man be jealous of that?
Matt: I agree. Compared to what you made him go through, I guess I can’t complain about the tough duty you gave me.
Laz: Hold on, mate. You call romancing a sexy doll like Cassie tough duty?
Pat: Whoa, you guys. I gave all three of you gorgeous ladies to protect. That’s the 'real' tough duty my heroes have to live up to if they’re to make it into one of my stories. Fighting for your life is one thing, but to stand up to a strong woman? That's hazardous duty in any man's language.
(all three laugh and pass fist butts around)
Matt: Granted, Pat. Cassie is the Alpha and Omega of my days left on Earth.
Matt: Your version of Earth, I concede. And the kids, Candy and Bobby, are awesome! We're going to be a fantastic family.
Dan: Matt, you just made me think. For Sherry and myself, Ana's the dawning of a whole new existence. Thanks, Pat. My story could have turned out a whole lot worse!
Laz: Okay, guys. At the risk of turning this into a campfire session, I have to admit something. With an angel like Laura blessing my life, how can I ever complain? Answer, I can’t. So thanks, Pat. I'll quit my bitching now. (gives Pat a high five, followed by fist-butts all around)
Pat: (looking embarrassed) Hey, you three! You all did just fine, following what had to be the hard way to find your way into the ladies’ hearts the way you all did. I appreciate your willingness to take action as I worked it out. And you all faced possible death to do what had to be done. That’s why I call each of you true heroes that your lady readers will fantasize over. Just don’t tell your girls you've got your women readers panting, will you?
(all laugh again and shake Pat's hand.)
Pat: Well, folks, I guess that’s a wrap for today's chat. Thanks for coming by and listening to these three hunks mix it up. If you’d like to know more about what they went through in saving their damsels in distress, I hoope you'll read their books.
Now for that excert. Remember this is three from the end, so I'm initiating a count-down today. This one is THREE!
Why did I think moving to Colorado would help? The disturbing question reverberated in Ana’s mind as she trudged down the hall, staring at the glimmering nightscape across Fort Collins. From the window of the children’s ward in Front Range Hospital she could see dozens of tiny flickering lights mimicking the stars in the night sky. A wonderful sight for those into wonder, but a curse for Ana who no longer wondered about much of anything.
It was past time to worry about why she’d come here so she wrenched free of her depressing thoughts. Get on with it, Ana. Finish your rounds and get out of here. She walked into Kim Jones’ room and “got on with it” as she had for more than two months since…
“Hi, Kim. How are we doing tonight?”
The girl tried to smile but was in obvious pain. “Okay. I shouldn’t complain.”
“Why not? Sweetheart, this is the perfect place to complain. I have your meds.”
The girl took the capsule and water with a grimace. “This stuff always makes my stomach hurt.”
“I know. But it helps your muscle cramps, and we don’t want those, do we?”
Wrinkling her nose, Kim swallowed and lay back with a hint of a smile. “Thanks, Ana. I know you’re just doing what I need. If I’d been smart enough to stay off that dumb skateboard, I wouldn’t be here with a broken ankle, making problems for you.”
“Honey, if the sky were filled with all the what-ifs, there wouldn’t be room for the stars. You’re not a problem.” She patted the twelve-year-old’s shoulder. “You go back to sleep. We’ll check in on you later.”
Back in the hall, her mind exploded. She was a good one to talk about what-ifs. They circumscribed her entire world, and the blue funk was back. To make it worse, her next stop was the one she dreaded.
The boy was eight. Joey had been eight. This boy’s dark brown curly hair and blue eyes reminded her so much of her late son. She sucked in a deep breath and went through the door.
Don't forget my contest. I've released excerpts that give a heads-up into the book. When all six are available, you can enter a chance to receive a free book by giving the correct book-order of the six excerpts. They're being released in jumbled order. The first answer, sent to my email, indicating the correct order will win the book. And all of you who enter will receive a free read; the first chapter of my new romantic comedy, THE LAST COWBOY IN TEXAS.
SLEEPING WITH HER ENEMY, to be released April 8, 2011 as an eBook by MuseItUp Publishing, features Dan and Ana, along with his daughter Sherry and Ana’s dog Molly. It will be available at MuseItUp Publishing, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and several other outlets.
DON'T BET ON IT is available as an eBook from Red Rose Publishing and can be found at Amazon, Smashwords, and other outlets.
A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND is available as a trade paperback from Whimsical Publications and can be found in paperback or eBook at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, and other outlets.
So, get out your Nooks, Kindles, Sony Readers, or other eReaders and load up these three fun reads. Thanks again and happy reading, everybody! Pat Dale