Okay, did I happen to mention that with stories....I am a S---L---O----Wwwww starter?
But once I kick it into gear.....
I'm now a little over 8000 words in the PJ 3 book.
Since I know my characters, it's going really, really fast. Unfortunately, remember the outline I mentioned where I mapped out my scenes? Um, yeah...so far I haven't used any of them. Sigh. I do this almost every time. I make a scene index...then the characters take the story in a different direction. I don't know why I spend the time trying to plot or do a plot outline.
I never use it.
Okay, rant over.
I told you I wasn't real happy with my opening. So another writer pal offered to read it. She said it was so boring that she went into a coma...okay, so no she didn't exactly say that. She said she loved my characters and would keep reading because of them.
Read: Slow start. LOL! No actually she said she thought people who hadn't picked up my first two books would think this opening was a bit slow. She had a totally kick-butt idea for a better opening line, which I asked her permission to use. So I'm much happier with the opening hook, or sentence one. YEEE!
So now I'm to about chapter four in the story and I feel I know my characters enough to take them through the rest of the story. Or actually it seems they're taking me the rest of the way since they're not obeying the plot I set out before them.
Anyway, the way I imagine my characters is to fashion them physycally after a celebrity. Doesn't have to be an actor or actress. Can be a singer, or an athlete, etc. Anything just so long as it's someone in the public eye. But I then keep that info to myself. I don't portray that to my readers anymore because some people may not know who George Eads (CSI actor I fashioned Joel after) or Paul Walker (8 Below actor who I fashioned Nolan Briggs after) are. But the thing is, I have to be able, as the author, to really see and hear these characters so I watch movies with them in it as research. Like, I've watched Sharktales for four hours straight one day because one of the characters in my Navy SEAL series (Joker Covelli) has a voice nearly identical to Will Smith. So though he doesn't look like Will Smith (he's latin), he uses the same inflections when speaking. But I got LOTS of compliments on getting Joker's voice down to a fine art and nearly everyone who read that story (Covenant SEAL-my 2005 Noble Theme first place winning story) could tell when Joker was speaking even if they had no beats or tags to identify him. Of course I put beats and tags in there but you get the point. I really, really strive to make my characters real and come to life on that page, and hopefully they will soon eek their way into reader's hearts.
When I can clearly picture and hear the characters, like having a hero look like Vin Deisel but sound like Mathew McConoughey (Sorry I'm probably butchering the spellings) that makes for an interesting combination. Or how about someone who looks like George Clooney but walks with the swagger of John Wayne, etc. You can mix and match mannerisms to voice and physique to a different personality, etc. You can have lots of fun with this.
So in plotstorming this, I'm sort of stuck because this in the only story in which I haven't been able to clearly picture (physically) Chance Garrison. (Hero-PJ 3) I want my PJ's to be as distinct from one another as possible. I know that Chance has light blonde hair, nearly bleach blonde like a surfer dude. And I'm pretty sure he has a sort of boyish quality to his face. So I looked up photos on Google Images, typing in Blonde Male Celebrities. Now, WARNING: You have to be really careful with this because occasionally an image will pop up that is definitely NOT G rated. I have no need to see my characters with their clothes off, and neither does my reader since the house I write for is extremely conservative and careful. I'm talking little to no sensuality in these stories. Because though owned by Harlequin, the imprint I write for is teh Christian Imprint and they are very strict on their content because they have a very conservative readership. So all I need to know is basically height, approx weight, body build type, and mainly what their face and hairstyle looks like. You can tell a lot about a person by their eyes and I go into the most detail about eyes and mouths because every guy's grin is unique. I have one heroine who has almond shaped eyes. I have a hero with ebony eyes that seem to see right through a person.
The eyes are a window to a person's soul so I give more detail to them than almost any other physical aspect. Did I happen to mention you can tell a lot about a person by their eyes. This is just something in my style of writing. You may not be big on eyes in your stories, and that's fine.
Moving onward, so I googled images and went to safe sites to look for pictures and now I kind of have a vague idea of what Chance looks like. I'd like to solidify that before I move too much forward, but I won't let that impede my story. I can always go back and layer in descriptive detail about him. Besides, you really only need to describe your character (usually best to do this from another character's POV) once in order to give your reader a visual to go by. Anything more than that I think can border on overkill. I know some authors who intentionally leave their character description vague so the reader's imagination can form the character how they want. It's up to each writer to decide how to execute this aspect of writing.
I also stumbled on an issue that may be too sensitive a subject to leave in my book. I emailed my editor to ask her. Depending on what she thinks, I may strip out that thread because of two reasons: I'm a newbie author and it would be risky for me to push the envelope. When I've sold several hundred thousand copies of books, like say, twenty books LOL! then I could probably tread into these contraversial areas. My hero had taken his girlfriend to get an abortion in high school and it comes out in the novel. Though it happened eons ago in his life and he's remorseful, the very word abortion can cause contraversy. Plus if I have a reader who's had one, I certainly don't want to bring back memories or make them feel condemned, though I don't preach or patronize about it in the book. My intent with that 2 paragraph scene was to have the heroine overhear that aspect of his past because she never knew that about him. I have a feeling my editor will suggest I nix the entire thread though. If I were a known author, I could probably risk it. We'll see what she says and I'll let you know.
For now, I'll just have to write on or write around that issue, or write a different version of that scene that excludes any mention of abortion. That means I'll have to take the plot in a different direction. And that's okay. It's called revision.
For now, I'm going to press onward with the story and try to solidify what my hero looks like to completion. This will be interesting because I've never delved this far into a book without having a concrete image of my characters. Google Image...here I come! LOL!
More another day,
I'm gonna go try to write.