No is a complete sentence

A Love Letter from a Story

happieroutsideThe following letter was told to me by one of my characters – Evan, from Intertwined, a fantasy story about magic, defeating the old ways, and realizing that other cultures have the same heart.

Dialoguing with my characters is a technique I use to get to the center of my characters, or ask them to open up to me about what a certain problem is or figure out why they’re quiet. This particular instance resulted in him directing his thoughts towards me, and knowing I needed his reassurance that day. These characters of mine are why I keep writing. I can’t ever let them down.

Evan writes:

Hey gorgeous. I see the confusion in your eyes. You’re pulled in so many directions. You want to make everyone happy. You’re worried about security. You’re worried about making the wrong choices.

While your internal turmoil is twisting you into knots, might I just add that you should choose us? Your characters. Your stories. Here’s why – we’ll never let you down. You will never lack for worlds to create or plots to construct or relationships to cultivate.

Sure you could just continue reading others’ works and find some level of happiness. They won’t be the stories you need to write. They won’t be written with your voice. They won’t have your heart and soul entwined in them.

That’s why we love you. That’s why we show up when you ask it of us. That’s why we let you destroy our lives, our families, our relationships, so you can put us back together in a way only you can construct.

So while you’re making those grand choices and plans to secure your future, bank on us. We exist because of you, and we won’t ever let you down. We will love you through it all, and are so ready to come alive to your readers.

So choose us. We’re worth it.
Love, Evan

With communications like that, how could I ever not believe it?

Image snagged from my friends at Happier Outside.

No is a complete sentence

Freedom and Structure

By the FirePerusing through the She Writes network the other day, I came across this most excellent post, Driving a Car at Night; Do you Outline, or Not?, by Kamy Wicoff.

Seriously, go read it. Especially the comments. I’ll wait right here for you.

Welcome back. The reason I wanted you to read Kamy’s post is that I’ve been struggling with the exact same issues lately. Process. Expectations of process. Ultimately why my expectations have been holding me back.

I grew up outlining in all my creative writing classes. I love outlines. I rock at writing essays because I can set up my structure ahead of time, gather all the information and support I need, then bang out my essay. Simple, easy, done.

Then I started writing fiction, fantasy, primarily. I ran into a brick wall in the form of my characters. It’s taken me quite a while to realize that every time I tried to outline my story or follow any sort of regulated process, my characters would throw up their hands and walk away shaking their heads. “She doesn’t get it.” I heard that from them multiple times.

Finally I started listening. I hear them. They don’t like structure. I do. How do I reconcile the two opposite poles? The answer I’ve come up with is…I don’t. I have to first give up my expectations, my process, my ideals, and let my characters have full control. I am merely a vessel for them to speak through. I’m doing this with my current story. I have envisioned a fireside chat with all the main players in the room. A cold, snowy evening with a fire in the fireplace, hot cocoa or something stronger for everyone, and my characters in various comfy chairs or on the soft rugs. All I’m supposed to do is write the stories that they tell, capture their gestures, the dynamics between them, and hear what they don’t say. What they don’t want me to know yet. It’s my job to be still, listen, observe, and write. Suddenly the words start to flow.

When I’ve finished writing all that they need me to know, however, you can be sure as hell that I’m outlining to ensure that I have all bases covered, that the holes are filled, and that the plot has been threaded successfully. In the end, both my characters and I get what we want. Freedom, and structure. They can coexist.