when i write

by

When readers read my novels, I want them to feel inspired, fascinated and breathless at the end. That’s because, to me, novels are a wealth of extraordinary experiences and vibrant characters that help instill a vibrancy into my own life.

Some of the best scenes in novels happen in very ordinary places. The family room. The den. The cubicle. A church. Now these seemingly “ordinary” places become settings, become staging grounds for something bigger. For some emotional development in a character. For some reversal of perspective. For a cold-blooded murder. For a boy to fall in love with a girl. For ANYTHING!

Novels help me recognize eccentricities in others and, instead of becoming annoyed by them, I become fascinated by them:

  • Why won’t that girl leave her emotionally abusive boyfriend?
  • What back-story provoked a mild-mannered man’s violent outburst at a restaurant?
  • What keeps that man from standing up for himself?
  • Why does that person hang on to an obviously deteriorating friendship?
  • Where does someone find religion?
  • Why does someone fall away from religion?

People who otherwise would have annoyed me or been judged by me have now become intriguing pieces to the larger puzzle of life. They fit in somewhere, I just have to figure out the arrangement. DISCLAIMER: Just to be fair, this doesn’t mean that some people don’t annoy me. If the eccentricity – feigned or real – is REALLY annoying, then I just run with annoyed.

inspired, fascinated and breathless

Take Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and its ability to inspire all of these feelings.

Madame Defarge’s unrelenting zeal for revenge that leads her to attempt the killing of innocents, but not before uttering her most famous line: “Tell wind and fire where to stop, but don’t tell me!” Even though she’s one of the bad guys, that is an inspiring line. Helps to instill a little respect into an otherwise deplorable character.

But the real breathless moment Dickens saves for the grand finale. SPOILER ALERT! Sydney Carton saving Charles Darnay’s life through the sacrifice of his own, elevating him to a  moral level that surpasses any other character in the book. And this act from an alcoholic who has wasted most of his life in the bottle, pining for the love of a woman who does not feel the same way. And then his execution at the end and the kiss he shares with a complete stranger moments before his death…

Beautiful. To inspire such emotion from your readers. To fascinate them with the humanity of your characters. To leave them breathless with a bittersweet and yet plausible ending.

If I can replicate even a fraction of what Dickens created with that final scene, I’ll consider my novel a success, whether or not it sells.

Although I prefer that it sell.

Post inspired by James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure

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