What do our characters teach us? Do they teach about falling in love and making that relationship work in a world where saying I love you really means just jump in the sack with me and we'll fall out of love in about 15 minutes, baby? Did I get your attention with that line? Well, it does play in here, so read on.... :)
I have been blog hopping this morning, reading and catching up with those blogs I "follow" (wishing I had more time because there is some really good stuff out there). Mary Verdick's post intrigued me. Mary is an ex English teacher and the author of both children’s books and several adult novels. (intriguing since I too want to write more than one "type" of book though you don't seem to see that very often). On her blog, http://maryverdick.blogspot.com/ Mary's Wednesday post was "Sometimes the Story is Right in Front of You" dealing with the question of inspiration. I get that question a lot (especially on my more off-the-wall stories). Her last post dealt with age being a number and not an indicator of our ability to take care of the things in life that need taking care of. I commented to her today that I believed her last post went hand in hand with the inspiration post because as we age we experience more experiences! It truly is a wonderful teacher. It is much easier to write about something we've experienced first-hand, however, I've found at times I get an idea for a story that I have no experience in at all....or maybe I do but it has been a good many years and I have to update myself to make it more timely. Those are fun times of writing too as I get to learn... I love being taught by my characters, which you'll probably agree with me that we are taught whether they are walking through something we've previously experienced or not.
Although I have answered the question on inspiration (you can read it on my website: Linda Boulanger.com) I'm intrigued with this thought today: what we're taught by our characters. Obviously when a writer writes about things they do not know they have to (or should) do research to learn all they can about the subject. I have a future novel (actually all written out....but it's in one of my lovely notebooks awaiting its turn for electronic transformation) about a 17 year old pop starlet. It deals with her transformation from a successful but not over the top singer to Megastar status. Weaved within the story of her walk to fame are the issues of handling the stardom while not losing herself and dealing with the issues of right vs. wrong, as well as....you knew this was coming because it's me :) ... falling in love and making that relationship work in a world where saying I love you really means just jump in the sack with me and we'll fall out of love in about 15 minutes, baby.
Now, I'm more than a few years past 17 and, event though I went to a few concerts during my college days, I'm sure they've changed a bit. I also had no experience with the music of today's youth.....had pretty much stopped listening to anything other than cds from my favorite musicals. Truth be told, I'm not even in a position to actually experience any of those things. I have 4 kids that need my attention most of the time and live in a town that really doesn't offer a whole lot of access to such, not to mention I can't exactly turn back the clock of aging!
Thank goodness for internet! I ask myself daily what I would do without that funky little "i" thingy that tells me I'm hooked up. It allowed me to get busy. I started listening to the "tunes" of the day (totally offended at first and had to turn them off after about 3.7 minutes), befriended, via email, a couple of DJs from the most popular radio station in Tulsa playing that music and attending concerts backstage, watched A LOT of music videos, interviews, concert clips, etc. as well as researching tons of behind the scenes info. It was work and I wasn't really sure I wanted to do it. But that character begged to be created. She plagued me until I relented and I LOVE HER just as much as I do the 15 year old near-prostitute character that my own 15 year old can't stand or the unwanted wife or the wildly successful screenplay writer......
Some of those characters take a lot of research, though most of my characters - like the ones Mary talked about in her blog - I can relate to from life and the fact that my stories deal mainly with love and the roller coaster ride that comes along with it. Still, they teach me because I experience differing emotions. I place them into situations I do not have first-hand knowledge of and explore all the aspects of the emotions and reactions. That's what I like to read....that's what I like to write. Hopefully it will be what you like to read too.
So, what do characters you've read about or written about teach you? I'd love to know. By-the-way, that 15 year old near-prostitute.....no, I didn't research THAT. Thankfully she is rescued prior by none other than an aspiring attorney at an elite law firm whose father just happens to have been a client of her mothers (no they aren't brother and sister.....they fall in love, of course). It's a tender story of her coming of age and being taken out of a life that she wants no part of but had, up until he "kidnaps" her, seen no way out of, and learning who she really is as well as helping him answer that same question. The name? The Selling of Ellie Carr. When? Don't press yourself here! Tell me what your characters teach you instead...