Monday, March 24, 2014

When a Character Refuses to Speak

Sometimes a week sails on without so much as a whisper from a particular character. I don't look at this lack of communication as writer's block. It feels more like swimming in a pond of murky imagination. I depend on my characters to come alive and dictate their wants, needs, and feelings. Last week no dictation happened.

The personality of the particular character in question took shape during the writing of Charade. I didn't like her then, and I don't like her now. If you've read Charade, you might have guessed I'm writing about Carrie Storm. There's something blocking me from walking in her shoes.

What would her childhood have been like traveling with her mother, Dusky as she performed for a Wild West Extravaganza in the mid-1900s? Something in Carrie's formative years turned her into the reclusive, secretive woman she became. As a teen she lived through the Great Depression. Those lean years must have taken a mighty toll on a kid without a permanent place to call home.

Carrie lived in a Gypsy wagon perched on a railroad flat car, constantly being transported from venue to venue. Did she see the hungry looks on the faces of young men riding the rails trying to find work during the Dust Bowl years? Was she afraid of becoming like them, footloose and desperate? Who are you, Carrie? What makes you tick? Talk to me.

Today's Lesson: 
When sticky words flow like honey on a cold day, write them anyway!



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