Writers, you know that moment when you’re writing so fast and furious that it seems like the story has taken over and you’re just dictating it? Those times when you’re typing and the words surprise even you? I can’t believe this is happening? Whoa, I didn’t see that coming. Ouch, why did you say that? Yeah, like that, and you think, hey, who’s running this show?
I had that happen early on in The Lemonade Year when one of my characters called me out on the way I was portraying him.
“Don’t do that,” he says, angrily. “Don’t you dare make me out to be a monster. I didn’t say the miscarriage was for the best. I said not getting pregnant again after that was.”
This was Jack, Nina’s husband, talking. But he’s wasn’t talking to her–well, not at first. When I first typed those words, Jack and Nina were in the middle of a heated argument and he wasn’t coming off so well, truth be told. I was painting him as a pretty stereotypical bad husband back in those early drafts–back before I got to know him very well. So, when my fingers were trying to do their best just to keep up with the argument my characters were having in my head, those words stopped me in my tracks.
Jack as talking to me. “Don’t you dare make me out to be a monster.”
It was an angry plea when he said it. It was a call to get to know this character better. Man, am I glad I did. I had Jack figured all wrong. In those early drafts, Jack was a bystander in a story that was very much about him too. He was water cooler gossip and that was about it. Now, I can’t imagine this book without Jack.
He isn’t the perfect husband, but neither is Nina the perfect wife. He doesn’t always say the right thing, and his pain causes him to act like a jerk more than once or twice, but monster… no, far from it. Force to be reckoned with…if it means he might have a shot at getting his family back…you bet.
Jack might have been benched at the start of this novel, but he’s still in the game. Win or lose, he’s not going down without at fight.
I love Jack. I hope you love him to. Thanks for hanging out for a while!
Writer challenge: Spend some time with one of the characters you don’t know very well. Ask your character these questions and see what he or she has to say.
Write about the thing you character doesn’t want anyone to know:
What’s the kindest thing your character ever did?
What’s your character’s biggest fear? What is your characters greatest hope?
What is the one thing that haunts your character that he or she wishes she could get over?
What is the funniest thing your character has ever seen?
When was the last time he or she cried?
What is in your character’s pocket right now?
What was the last lie your character told?