Love is a strange thing. As people, we’re used to that emotion and many others that come with it – it’s part of the great gift of being human. You feel. You fall in love. You laugh. You cry. And sometimes, just sometimes you’ll sit in a corner and shake like a ball of angst or rage. We each have a different emotional response to any given situation. And that’s something that our characters will often share with us. They laugh. They cry. They feel, and if you’re doing your job right, that’s when you feel their emotions through you as you write. Most writers will at one time or the other admit to sitting down and balling their eyes out for no other reason than “x character made me” and that’s not something just anyone will understand.
But like people, our characters fall in love. They hurt, they suffer heartbreak, a hurt and a break so soul consuming that we don’t realise that it’s there. And why? Because we’re convinced that what we’re doing is right for our character – and more often than not we’re right. It’s the best call, even if they don’t see it that way, they’ll come around to it eventually. Or at least, so we hope. It doesn’t always work like this, sometimes there is just no happy ending and the character refuses to move on and get past it – no matter what you do.
And that’s where Charlotte and I have kind of been for some of this week. Sometimes, it’s not until you read some of your old work that you realise how well a character once worked. And you see what they need. The problem came for us when we just couldn’t give them what they needed – and honestly, we’re never going to be able to. One character had moved on for the best, and the other … was still stuck in the past. So relationship counselling started – what did they need to move on, how did we miss it?! Why did we break them so badly and so on and so forth.
We’ve worked it out now, figured out how to mend things for the better, and now our heartbroken character works. Compromise works wonders – especially with our kids.
And that’s perhaps one of the best and most rewarding things about writing. You take a character and you fix them. We’ve fixed many characters over the past couple of weeks, and made them work better than they’ve worked before. Characters who barely spoke two words have been given a slight tweak and suddenly they could win a gold medal at the Olympics for talking. It’s a puzzle, a mystery and a way of finding how all the different pieces lock together – like the jigsaw you do, where you’re searching for that last missing piece … only it’s somewhere under the couch and you have to shift everything about to get it. But when you’ve got it, it slots in and you have a sense of achievement – for five seconds at least.
With both of us taking a long weekend, we’ve spent the majority of it sorting out our characters. Giving them one final sort (biggest joke of 2017 right there!) and into place. By the end of this evening we’ll have caught up with where we were supposed to be at the start of the year, but in a better and stronger place. We know where we want to go, where we need to go. And what’s more we have our characters to guide us – whether that’s through love or hate or fear or anger.
We know that either way, we’re going to be put through the emotional rollercoaster that are our characters. We’re going to laugh with them, cry with them, feel angry with them and pour that into the page. And hopefully, with our new goal plans and targets we’ll be tearing through the pages in no time.
This is it now. Where we hand our work over to our characters and give them a voice. Where their lives are transported to pages. And where we take a back seat in so many ways, and let them give out all of those stories and plots and raw, heartbreaking emotions that we’ve battled through with them over the weeks, months and years!
Wish us luck – with our kids, we’re gonna need it!