Friday, August 19, 2011


I love how the seemingly random events in your life can tie in so readily with what you're working on.

I love the coincidences that feed the characters we work on, the way we spot traits in people around us, just when we need to. 
Last month, while in P.E.I., walking the beaches, I found myself thinking intently about a character I needed to develop. Sometimes a character comes full-blown, and at other times, it's a slow uncovering, a slow discovering, to find the heart of that character. In this instance, I had a viscerally exciting sense of the plot -- one that made me tingle with delight -- but only a vague sense of  the character.

I've learned that it's best not to start to write a novel or story until I have a clearer sense of the character, because the character is what drives that story forward. If your character isn't true, the story will twist and distort in strange directions. If your character is true, pretty much all you have to do is follow her/him and write down what she/he does.

So as I walked the beach, I tried to give my character life, depth, warts -- tried to know my character.

And a name is so important. A name has to fit, to feel right on the tongue, to feel right in the gut.

On this day, I found some writing on the beach -- and oh, a name written there, that was just perfect for my character. I won't reveal what that name was -- if I talk too much about a novel when it's nascent, still so tenuous in my head, I tend to lose interest.

But I'm grateful for the serendipity that led me to the right name.

It's a wonderful reminder to be mindful, to be attentive to life, as it feeds the creation of art.

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