Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Listen Up

Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a writer. When you listen, you open yourself up to ideas and direction that you wouldn't get otherwise, especially if you have your hard plans set and will still change them.

And I'm speaking of an outline here.

I think it's important to listen up.

Photo by tami.vroma, courtesty of Flickr
You may call it your gut feeling or you may call it inspiration, but whatever you call it, be prepared for some direction as you write, and don't be afraid to take a different path if you feel so led.

When I was writing Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, I decided to name the main character Virginia, and I wasn't sure why that was important, just that it felt right. I later discovered, after some research, that Virginia meant 'pure one', and it suddenly made sense to me since part of Virginia is 'virgin.'

There were other a-ha moments when writing that book, but books don't have to be of a spiritual nature to get insights about what should happen next, and that's why I like to also share the story of Susan in Scrambled.

Photo by: vavva_92, couresty of Flickr
Susan leaves her husband during the first part of the story hoping for a better life, and all during the writing of the book I knew that she'd return to him. I felt as if he'd change for the better, and that she'd change for the better and that together they'd make a happy couple. Some good things happen in the story, and I'm not going to tell you what Susan decides, just keep in mind that her heart felt feelings aren't en-graven in stone and I give her two choices up until the very end.

In writing A River of Stones some 10 years ago now, I discovered early on that Samantha, the main character was a bit like me, and a bit not like me. I discovered that she spoke up far more often than I dared to as a kid but that she was like me when it came to her vivid imagination--something I haven't lost since. It was important for Samantha to carry the speaking up and vivid imagination portions of her personality throughout the story, but I also had to listen up for areas in which she wanted to change and grow. I couldn't keep her surrounded by the same pain, at least not completely, and I needed to allow her the freedom of choice--I couldn't force my beliefs on her, for example, but had to allow her to discover these on her own.

Listening up is as important as writing to me because when I have listened I have created an authentic world. I have created a character or a set of characters that live in a real world with real world problems that can be overcome.

Cutting corners in my books, as in life, rarely works.

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