When Characters Run Awry by Jennifer Dawson
Writing has taught me one valuable lesson: Nothing goes according to plan.
And that goes double for writing fiction. You sit down to write with something perfect in mind. You have ideas and plots, and you’re certain how this world will play out. Then those characters get involved, go rogue, and mess everything up.
See, often occasionally, a character can be… well… a bit of an asshole.
I remember, back before I wrote a word, reading an interview from a favorite author of mine. In the article, she talked about her characters as if they were real people, just wandering around with minds of their owns. I found this notion preposterous. I admit, despite being quite the fangirl, I rolled my eyes a bit. She created the characters. If she didn’t have control over the words on the page, who did? She was the lord and master of their universe, the ultimate decider. How silly to pretend otherwise.
Ah, I was so naïve back then…
Needless to say, I’ve had a change in perspective.
Some characters refuse to fall in line, and Sophie Kincaid, the heroine in HEAD OVER HEELS, is one of those characters. See, when I started the Something New series, I had a plan. There were five main women in the books, and I knew exactly who each of them was going to end up with. Four of them agreed that their hero was the best match, and while they didn’t always cooperate in the way they got to happily ever after, they didn’t protest their intended.
Hmm…. who do you think was the troublemaker? I’ll give you one guess.
That Sophie would not cooperate.
If you’ve ever wondered how a hero and heroine come together, you’ll be happy to find sometimes it’s as hard as finding a match on Tinder. This will surprise some readers of the series, but when I came up with the characters, I planned on Sophie ending up with Sam Roberts, the quiet bartender who’s also a bit of a psychic, although he’d never cop to that definition. Well, as soon the two of them meandered onto the page I knew that wasn’t going to work. But that was fine, it happens. It was early into the series and I wasn’t terribly invested in them. No biggie, I can roll with the punches as much as the next girl.
That left only one other option, Charlie Radcliffe, the county sheriff, would be her guy. It made perfect sense to me, as they were my most mysterious characters in the series. Both slow to reveal themselves. Both only giving hints of their personalities as I went through the books. Of course, they’d be perfect together.
Only, whenever I put them in a scene together they ignored each other. I didn’t despair. I figured it must be because they harbored a secret attraction that I didn’t know about because I wasn’t in their heads yet. Surely when I wrote in their point of view, all would be revealed. Right? Besides, whom else would they be with? No other characters that entered the pages of the series made any sense. There were no hero or heroine prospects for either of them, so they must go together, even if the story eludes me. But no matter how many times they showed up on the page, they remained a mystery, both to me and to each other. I had no choice but to remain steadfast to my vision.
One day, frustrated with my lack of a story idea for Charlie and Sophie, I decided to write a more direct, one-on-one scene between them. And oh my god, talk about a dud. Like watching paint dry. These two had nothing to say to one another, had zero spark and non-existent chemistry. Despite my plans, Sophie just shook her head and said, “No way. It’s not him.”
So, Sophie and Charlie’s romance was over before it even began which left me with a book to write and NO HERO. Not a great place for a writer to be.
The search began. On it went… I’d think of some potential hero, and Sophie’s answer would always be no. I was beginning to think maybe she was too independent and wasn’t interested in being tied down. That maybe she loved her freedom too much. Time went on and I had nothing for her. As much as I wanted to write her story, maybe I had to give up and work on someone a bit more agreeable to finding love.
Then Ryder Moore made his way onto the page. He was unexpected. Unplanned. The funny thing was, he didn’t even have a name. He never spoke. He never even made a cameo. Another secondary character in the series referenced him. And in that one, measly, throwaway sentence I knew. This was the one. The man Sophie had been waiting for. Her only confirmation was a shrug, but I knew. Ryder Moore burst onto the page, and the entire story unfolded before me. Like magic.
All those planned, hatched heroes didn’t work because somehow my fictional character knew what she needed better than me, her creator. I still don’t understand how that happens, but it does, more often than you’d think. I concede, she was right and I was wrong. Sophie is a strong willed, slightly prickly, stubborn heroine, so of course she’d decide on her own hero without my help. And hot, fun, dangerous Ryder is the perfect man for her because he loves and accepts her for who she really is. As he says in the book, “I haven’t tamed her. Don’t see the point. I like her wild.”
And isn’t that just the way life goes? At the end of the day, true love and happily ever afters don’t go according to plan. You don’t always end up with the person you thought you would. Life is full of surprises and storms that come out of nowhere when you least expect them. The best you can hope for is a partner willing to walk that twisting path by your side, holding on for dear life, and loving your particular brand of wild.
Thanks for having me today. I had a great time and I hope you did too.
HEAD OVER HEELS: A Something New Novel #5
Sometimes it takes hurt to open your heart…,
At twenty-two, Thane Wells is the highest-paid pitcher in Major League Baseball—and he owes it all to his adoptive Mama, “Queen” Elizabeth Sommerville, a wise, beautiful, entrepreneurial African-American woman who always encouraged him and his two white brothers to reach for the stars…the woman Thane still talks to daily. He never dreamed their most recent conversation would be their last. With his beloved supporter suddenly gone, Thane is grief-stricken, shaken, and vulnerable—especially to a woman like Kari Meyers.
Kari’s had her eye on Thane for a while, but strictly for business. As a junior sports agent, she’s hungry to sign him, especially when she hears his current agent will be retiring soon. When she finally locates Thane, she’s shocked to discover he’s attending his mother’s funeral—and he’s shocked to find Kari in his hotel room. Assuming she’s an escort is just the beginning of their misunderstandings. But one thing that’s clear is their mutual attraction. As a single mom with an NBA ex, Kari has a rule against dating athletes. Yet as circumstances bring the two closer together, they just might find they’re on the same team, heart and soul…
YOU CAN PURCHASE HEAD OVER HEELS at:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they’re married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog.
Despite going through a light FM, poem writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and disgruntled with a book she’d been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is history.
These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever watchful eye on her ever growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband.
Author Website: www.JenniferDawsonAuthor.com
Author Twitter: www.twitter.com/JenDawsonAuthor
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