“BUT PEOPLE THEMSELVES ALTER SO MUCH, THAT THERE IS SOMETHING NEW TO BE OBSERVED IN THEM FOREVER.” ––Pride and Prejudice
Nevertheless I am often asked if I write with a strict plot outline or if I follow my muse. The truth is I do both. I have a general idea of where I want to go with the book, including the major events or plot highlights, but once the book gets past chapter 3, the characters have been formed and they very much write it themselves. I posted a Facebook post a few months ago when I finally came to the conclusion that I am not in charge! The characters are! It may be my fingers on the keyboard but once the story gets going, there is little I can do to stop if from going one way or another. I have heard from many writers that it is the same for them.
But one thing I am always amazed at is that somehow, in the short few months it takes to write a book, the characters evolve. They grow into something far better than anything I had imagined at the beginning. They grew from their pain, they courageously sacrificed their pride, they learned the hard lesson to trust again, and perhaps even developed a faith in God. This is especially true for Charlotte Collins in Hope For Fitzwilliam, Book 2: The Hope Series. In this book, Charlotte is a widow and at the sinister violent hand of the late Mr. Collins, she is left scarred and has lost all hope in love. Slowly she sees that there can be gentleness and kindness between a man and a woman and she eventually surrenders that independence that she thought was so much more important than love. This is only after Colonel Fitzwilliam’s valiant fight for her heart. She really does grow from her pain, she does sacrifice her pride, she learns to trust again, and develops a faith in God, but more importantly, she became who she could potentially be.
How often have you met someone that seemed to be far more intelligent than what they use in their current employment? Or ever wondered why someone’s wit wasn’t put to good use? Ever wonder how the homeless man ended up where he was? Ever wonder if a woman who never got the chance to be a mother would have faired? I have. I love to examine and imagine what other people’s potential could be. This of course leads me to wonder what my own potential could be.
I just finished the final read through of Hope For Fitzwilliam as I am planning on posting it on Meryton.com and Darcyandlizzy.com starting April 30. What I came away from this story is that no matter how much I think I know what I want to do with a character, the truth is, I’m not in control. The characters become so alive and real that it becomes clear to me as a writer what they would say in a certain situation, or even something as simple as the body language they would have. But no matter what, there is always growth, and sometimes it is growth I never knew could be written into a story. And by the time the words, “The End”, are written, I have fallen in love with each and every character as if they were dear friends and it the evolution is so noticeable to me that it is undeniable.
I believe there is always growth in all of us as well. We may just need someone else to tell us what they see. This is where good friends and family can be put into good use. I recently had a dear friend write the following words to me. “You are an amazing mother, successful writer, knowledgeable nurse, and have overcome huge trials.” All I can say to this person is, I may look in the mirror every day, but I never seem to notice the change in height. The change is too subtle, too familiar, and too close to home. So I thank her from the deepest part of my heart for helping me see the growth that has occurred. We may not recognize the journey we have traveled over the years by putting one foot in front of the other, but one thing I am certain of, is that others see it. And for those of you who see the growth in those favorite characters of your life, take the time to tell them. The need to hear it can be as fundamental as feeling valued and respected. And the truth is, you may be the only one in his or her life that ever is given the opportunity to tell them or you may be one of many, but either way, they need to hear it. So do not let the moment go by to lift someone, even if is not your usual style.
Growth is all around us. Do you see your personal character’s evolution?
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