Going Off-leash

Mostly, you probably need to go deeper. Deeper, deeper, deeper. You should know everything there is to know about your characters and your settings.
–Barbara Samuel

The new tablet came home on Friday. I’d love to say that I’ve been hauling her (yes, my electronics are gendered) everywhere and been writing tons more, but there are a couple of things I have noticed before that can happen:

  1. Those keys are tiny.
  2. My fingers are gigantic
  3. I think part of the port where the cable plugs in to connect the tablet to the keyboard came out with the plug itself and I’m not sure how to get it back in there.
  4. The onscreen keyboard isn’t that bad, actually, and I am a technological wimp.

But I have been taking baby steps. First public wifi outing after church on Sunday, and things went smoother than I had expected. Still haven’t found the best place in my favorite coffee house to sit with the really short power cord, but then again, the battery is all new and powery and shouldn’t give me any problems in that regard. So far, I’ve mostly watched YouTube, checked my email and swiped my gigantic fingers around (and oddly enough, I have pretty petite hands when I’m not holding the tablet, so I am thinking this is situational) the screen, usually with some variation of “wait, what, were are we going? This thing is fast.” and/or “Where do I tap?” No doubt that I’ll figure it out through trial and error and possible desperate appeal to any tech-savvy collegians hanging out in the same coffee house, but there is a learning curve.

Learning curve as well with Her Last First Kiss. For a long time, writing had felt like trying to move a boulder up a hill by beating my head against said boulder. Now, I’m letting the characters lead, and the places they take me…where they want to go, they don’t have maps, or at least no maps I’ve ever read. It’s both exciting and scary. Imperial Russia? Colonial Canada? Madhouses? Hero who is basically the eighteenth century equivalent of a former child star unable to reconcile himself to life as an adult (and let us not forget self image issues, because that’s a biggie) and a heroine trying to treat intensely personal things like business matters because that’s easier than facing the Big Scary Feelings? I’m not sure I signed up for that.

It’s fitting that this book is being written at the same time I have this tiny pink piece of technology in my posession. They both scare me a little. Both big responsibilities but also tickets to an awful lot of fun. It’s the off-leash part of the writer park (which I imagine would be like a dog park, but for writers; the water fountain would likely dispense caffienated beverages, and there would probably be more chairs) – no more excuses. Even if I only have the touchscreen keyboard, boom, transcribing anywhere. I can have my story playlists with me without lugging the whole laptop and external keyboard with me everywhere. (Though if I end up having to plug this external keyboard into the tablet…actually, I probably wouldn’t mind that, because normal sized keyboard, so never mind. That one’s good.) Check research online in the park? No problem. Edit at the laundromat? Easy. So what’s stopping me?

One foot in front of the other, bend down, thumb the clasp on the leash and let that puppy run. Let the characters lead. I don’t know a thing? Well, look it up, Sherlock. This isn’t a history textbook. This is a romance novel. It’s a love story. It happens to take place in Georgian England. That’s their Now. That’s their Here. That’s their Normal, so it has to be normal to them, and painted so that it reads that way to the reader, but the love story is front and center, where it belongs.

It’s not a nice story, because I don’t want to write a nice story. I want my heart to break, along with my hero’s and heroine’s, because I know that it’s going to be put back together in the end. I want to take two star-crossed lovers who have given up on love and help them find their Happily Ever After, after all. Chuck off all the lies they’ve believed, for far too long, the ones that have held them back and become who they were always meant to be, as individuals and as a couple.

There are risks to take when trying something new, but once I catch the scent of a place where I can dig in deeper, I want to shove my hands elbow-deep into the soil of character and story. Why are they like that? What secrets are they hiding? How can I bribe these very private people to give up what they most want to keep hidden? Becuase it’s worth it all, I promise, promise, promise. Getting to the heart of the story, the heart of the characters, that’s where the life is, for characters and writer both. For the readers, I hope, as well, but that’s a way aways yet. For now, I’m letting this (figurative) puppy -and myself- off the leash, to run as we will.

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