Living with my characters!

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Periodically, especially if I am in an interview or book event, people will ask me about my writing process.  It is a personal question to ask a writer and I wonder if many really tell the whole truth about the processes they use.  Mentally, when I was “living with my characters”  for six months I thought that I was an anomaly.  Later I found out that many (maybe most) fiction writers do the same thing.

Since I was an academic (math teacher – high school and community college) long before I became a writer, this is all quite new to me.  My earlier years were not spent with my head in a book unless I was studying something like chemistry or math.  Nor did I “read for pleasure” unless I was in grad school trying to escape the tedium of studying abstract algebra or topology.  But few things have been as much fun as writing the sequel to VANESSA – a Love Story.  (Maybe I should have been writing back then.)

Our daughter, now a professional blogger and inventor, convinced me to get an iPad.  Because I listen to her (probably a bit too much) I did so.  What happened was that I had the iPad on my lap every single day, even when I had not thought about something to write.  I just left it there and waited to see what would happen.  Sometimes I would write a page, sometimes only a paragraph.  Sometimes I would write a conversation between two of my characters.  But until the first draft was complete the iPad, my characters, and I were one.

My husband never once complained about it, but by now he must be tired of hearing about “Vanessa.”  She has literally moved into the house with us.  Perhaps that’s what writing fiction is like.  My editor friend tells me Vanessa is “real,” and that the characters in the original book are real too.  That’s a good thing.  Because I know for sure that the characters in the sequel are “real!” (By “real” I do not mean they emulate anyone I know. They do not).

Sometimes I wonder if they appear to the reader the way they appear to me.   Is my idea of beautiful or handsome the same as theirs?  Does it matter?  One take-away from a writing class I did not like and from which I thought I had not learned much, was that the writer has a choice in describing something, i.e., showing vs telling.  The tendency to tell is tempting and easy, i.e., “she is striking.”  The alternative, to show, i.e., “she has expressive green eyes, long curly black hair, and mesmerizes every man she passes,” requires more thought and planning.   Of course, I would give her a seductive name to go along with all of that.  (And no.  That woman is not Vanessa.  Vanessa is her own unique definition of beauty.  The woman with the green eyes is fictitious, even to me, although she could very well turn up in the sequel.)

Anyway — who are all of the people in the sequel, and when will they make their debut?  Hopefully by March or April at the latest.  I cannot wait to introduce them all.  There will be a whole new cast of characters in the sequel to VANESSA – a Love Story.  Will you see any of the old cast?  Of course you will.  There has to be some drama, doesn’t there?