Category Archives: Writing Details

Are All Writers Introverts?

What do you think are the chances of ever coming across a Help Wanted ad that reads like this:

CREATIVE WRITER
La La Land, NJ

Fiction factory seeks imaginative daydreamer to brainstorm, draft, and revise/edit story ideas for potential publication. Applicant must have been born with a calling, and posses a quiet, low key personality, yet still be temperamental enough to be artistic. Salary + bonus and full health benefits included. Send resume and writing sample by June 30, 2013.

Zero? Damn. Ah, well. I’ll apply anyway. See what happens. Never know. Right?

I’m currently knee deep in Susan Cain’s innovative new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts. One page in, I already knew it was the book I’d been waiting for my entire life. Through this impeccably researched chronicle of the introvert’s rich inner life, I’m learning to understand myself with a whole new kind of clarity.

Cain also gives a great speech on the topic on Ted Talks. See video here.

Contemplative “Window Cat” Clifford M. Kinsman → in Cats and dogs

Since the notion of introversion has been ruminating in my mind lately, I’d like to ponder a question out loud: Can a writer—a keen, devoted, fanatical writer—ever be anything but an introvert?

I can hear the shouts already. “Of course not! I’m a writer but I’m also a very sociable person!”

This may be true. And of course there are plenty of gregarious writers in the world. Take me for example. I’m a textbook introvert—but I’m also a teacher. I love being in front of a classroom. Like everything else in this world, there is spectrum. Take any given Are you Introvert or an Extrovert personality test and if zero equals pure introvert, and one-hundred equals pure extrovert, most people will fall somewhere in between.

However, through my reading of Quiet, I’m learning that introversion and extroversion go beyond personality styles and daily verbal word count. Cain suggests that it has more to do with responses to stimuli and levels of energy. Extroverts, according to studies, aren’t as distracted by outside noise or activity, while introverts are more likely to be bothered by disruptions. Extroverts get their energy from interactions with others or at social events; on the other hand, introverts get their energy from inside themselves. So, hence, extroverts=external energy going in vs. introverts=internal energy going out.

“Lonesome Fishing” Shi Yali → in Sea & water

The crazy part? The part I never allowed myself to realize is this: Neither one is better than the other. Cain says we  need both types (and all the kinds in between) of people to keep this world functioning the way it does. It’s evolutionary. So far, nature hasn’t weeded out the timid folks. Society, however, places higher demand on the extroverted way of being. (But hey, don’t you remember an old saying: the WHO shall inherit the earth? :))

So how does all this relate to writing? The title of this post poses the question of whether or not writers, by nature, are typically (key word there) introverts? We all know some classic examples.*

1. Emily Dickinson
2. Virginia Woolf
3. J.D. Salinger
4. T.S. Elliot
5. The entire Bronte family

But surely not every single writer who ever lived dreaded even the mere thought of a cocktail party? Am I right? I’d be willing to bet, however—and I say this on no other grounds than I’m both a writer and an introvert—that many of them did…dread the dinner parties and such.

Face it; writers are the kinds of people who need downtime—and not just to do their work. Writing is one of the few activities that is done primarily alone (not counting television series, for which there is often a team of writers), but your typical novelist, journalist, memoirist, short story writer, and poet works solo. And by nature, introverts are more comfortable being alone than extroverts.

“Waterfront Bench” for the introvert Brian Norcross → in Landscape

Ask yourself, who is the most outgoing, vivacious, liveliest person you know? Is he or she a writer? (It’s funny, actually I know a lot of extroverted readers, but when it comes to sitting down at a computer for hours at a time…not a chance) I’ll doubt it. Extroverts need a lot of action to feel stimulated and writing—even at its best—doesn’t provide a whole lot of action.

I’m not making any assumptions of course. Nothing is ever black or white. But I will venture to say that generally speaking, writers are people who posses rich, inner lives that reveal thoughts and ideas from the heightened states of consciousness that can only come from spending a lot of time in solitude.

Thoughts? Can you think of any extroverted writers? Or more examples of introverted writers?

By the way, this was recently posted on BuzzFeed:31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re an Introvert

*Did I say introverted? I meant reclusive 🙂

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under Self Discovery, The Writing Life, Writing Details, Writing Process

Love Connection: Writing about romantic relationships in fiction

For centuries the world’s great stories have been built on romance. Petrarch wrote love poems for Laura. Romeo and Juliet defied and sacrificed to be together. Hell, the Greek Gods swapped partners more often than the cast of Beverly Hills 90210. Today’s realm of pop culture isn’t much different: Rachel and Ross’s dalliances kept us engaged through ten seasons. We swooned when, after years of torment, Mr. Big flew to Paris to claim his Carrie Bradshaw. And the movies? Forget it. Even the action hero has a love interest.

So we like falling in love. We like watching others fall in love. As bookish types, we like reading about love. And (drumroll, please) us scribes? We dig writing about love.

Rachael Towne → in Textures

It’s no big mystery. Writing about romantic relationships evokes feelings of our own. It can actually be a vicarious experience.When two of my protagonists hit it off, I get tingly inside; I ache, I yearn.  I know it’s serious when I find myself fantasizing about my own characters (don’t tell anyone). But that’s the effect it has. Writers are the luckiest people in the world: we get to fall in love over and over again.

Like most elements of fiction writing, the Love Connection can be a tricky endeavor. In romance novels there is often a formula to follow. From what I understand, at the end, despite all obstacles, the couple lives happily ever after. But perfecting the art of dangerous liaisons is not the sole job of the romance writer.  I consider my work ‘literary with a commercial bent,’ and regardless of genre, the passion needs to sizzle.

It’s all about pacing; the Love Connection must begin, develop, and (perhaps) end, at an optimal speed.

Here’s a quick guide to the process:

The Initial Meeting:

Whether its new love, old love, or love turned sour, every fictional couple should have a story. I listened to a webinar recently where speaker, Jerry B. Jenkins, discussed ‘situational clichés.’ He used the example of two characters literally “bumping into each other.” He suggested ‘finding more creative ways for characters to meet.’ Concerning the Love Connection, this is absolute truth. Tony and Maria from West Side Story also come to mind: two strangers lock eyes across the room, the backdrop becomes blurry, the sounds fade out…ick. It worked for the Jets and the Sharks, but for your novel, you may want to take Jenkins’s advice. There are countless ways to demonstrate the Love Connection. Go for something that’s never been done before.

The Exchange:

A few years ago I attempted to write a novel about two twenty-somethings who meet and fall in love. There were countless issues concerning the writing (i.e. zero backstory, vague setting, etc.) but one element I did nail was the exchange between my characters, Eddie and Ellie. My writing group loved the flirtatious banter, the suggestive gestures, and the obvious sexual tension. I was starting to think that they were falling in love with Eddie and Ellie as much as Eddie and Ellie were falling for each other. But after several weeks they started asking questions like, “When are they going to kiss? Have sex? Touch each other?” Then it hit me: I wasn’t going beyond the exchange. If they kiss, then they reach a new level. And I was lost at how to handle that.

The Outcome:

Just as in life, the literary romance will take some tumbles. The world that looked so shiny and new has returned to its regular dull hues, and now the sands of time are being tested. This is the hard part. But it’s also the most important part. It’s the bonding, the reckoning, and the agonizing. I feared for Eddie and Ellie in this stage. Would they make it? Lose their spark? I kept the witty repartee rolling because I didn’t want to find out. Hence, I never finished the novel.

Literary love comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are ongoing, some are ending, some are unrequited, and yet others are inevitable. Capturing love the right way can do wonders for your book. It can encourage someone to take to take the plunge, get engaged, or leave an unhappy marriage. But one thing I know for sure? As long as we live, read, and write, we most certainly will love.

Do your characters fall in love? Tell me about it.

26 Comments

Filed under Characters, Plot & Structure, Writing Details, Writing Process, Writing Tips

What’s the right point-of-view for your story?

New York Binoculars. Brian → in Objects

Like characters, plot, and setting, a story’s point-of-view can go a long way. Points-of-view in literature have always fascinated me, and I’ve found that most writers tend to cling to certain perspectives. I, myself, tend to gravitate towards first person and third person limited. In fact, I’ve never attempted a multiple point-of-view story! Now I’m suddenly feeling like a novice 😦

Either way, I think certain stories lend themselves to certain points-of-view. I can’t possibly imagine a grandiose bildungsroman such as Great Expectations being told in any perspective outside first person.

I’ve written up a brief overview of each type below. This knowledge is mostly a culmination of courses I’ve attended, books I’ve read, and writing I’ve done. I’m presenting this information to you based on my own…wait for it…point-of-view! I certainly don’t claim to be an expert:

The Major Types of Point-of-View

First Person: These are stories told in the “I” voice. Many budding novelists use this perspective because it feels natural. Generally speaking, first person stories have that unmistakable ‘flow.’ This point-of-view is never to be confused with the author; in fact, the narrator is an actual character in the story.

However, there are two different kinds of first person narrators. (1) A character who is actively involved in the story. Think Jane, from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. (2) A character who is a casual observer. Think Nick Carroway from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Nick may be dictating the course of events, but the story actually focuses on Jay Gatsby (arguably, anyway). Think about how the story would change if Gatsby himself were the sole voice.

Pros:  the reader has the opportunity to become thoroughly acquainted with one of main characters. Plus, generally speaking, despite bad behavior and less than stellar moral conduct, a reader will root for the protagonist, because it is impossible to see the situations through anyone else’s eyes.
Cons: the reader may miss out on secondary characters’ points of view, thus, misinterpreting their true motives; moreover, the notion of the ‘unreliable narrator’ is most palpable here.

Best used for: Coming of age stories, or other stories where the protagonist undergoes a transformation, has an epiphany, etc.

Second Person: In some cases it is basically a first person narration talking to himself. It could also be the narrator addressing another character (perhaps a lost love?) Finally, the “You” the narrator can speak directly to the reader.

Pros: involves the reader, as if he or she is part of the action taking place in the story
Cons: hard to get involved with the characters’ thoughts, emotions, etc.

Best used: (I’ve heard) Detective or ‘crime solving’ novels, or perhaps a series of letters to another character.

Third Person: Here we have an unknown narrator who is not part of the story. This narrator can shift points-of-view from one character to another.

Pros: generally not unreliable, has multiple perspectives, and can refer to situations and instances outside one sole character’s mind.
Cons: shift from different perspectives can blur, be jarring for the reader

Best used for: Family sagas, any story with more than one main character

Third Person Limited: In some ways, this is very close to first person, because the point of view focuses solely on one character’s perspective. It is an outside force, narrator, that “knows all” without being an actual character, but really only is able to get inside the mindset of one character—nine times out of ten, the main character

Pros: reliable, slightly more open than first person, can be aware of character thoughts that character him-or herself is not aware of—more difficult to do this with first person.
Cons: limited perspective, can’t hear the one character’s voice as clearly as first person

Best used for: coming-of-age stories, short stories (which doesn’t always have time to switch character points of view)

Omniscient: This is a big, grandiose perspective. In other words, “God-like;” sees all, every encompassing move surrounding a band of characters. Does not focus on any characters’ too closely.

Pros: wide, can refer or remark on things characters can’t see, such as someone creeping up behind them in the woods, etc.
Cons: distance from characters. Can watch movements, hear things they say, speculate on them, etc, but can’t get inside any of them.

Best used for: poems, certain short stories, can be disconcerting in novel form

Please tell me…which point-of-view do you tend to write in? Which point-of-view do you enjoy to read most? Waiting for your thoughts.

23 Comments

Filed under Books and Literature, The Writing Life, Writing Details, Writing Process

What are your writing obsessions?

I’ll admit, I’m ripping this one off an old college professor. In a poetry writing course some years back, she asked us to consider our “poetic obsessions.” She even brought in some of her own compulsions from her office within the same building. Vintage advertisements from a younger America, books with brown, image-less hard covers and yellowing pages, china cat figurines with chipped ears. She spread it all out on the long conference table. Told us to sift through it, get inspired, write a poem. “We all have our own obsessions,” she said, “obsessions which fuel our writing, whether we’re aware of it or not. Go home and scan your bedrooms, work rooms, or other places you may sanctify. Examine your bookshelves, closets, dresser drawers. What seems to come up over and over again? These are your obsessions. And I’ll bet you anything that from time to time, they inexplicably show up in your writing.”

I was eager to come home and observe my space for my obsessions. I went straight to my office, and just as my professor said, I noticed some patterns. Flowers, for one thing. Fake flowers. Feather flowers, glass flowers, plastic flowers, wooden flowers. On my desk, shelves, end tables, etc. Then there was my lighthearted fixation on the occult: astrology books, psychic books, palm reading cards. I also have a greeting card with a painted fairy balancing the scales of justice on her shoulders. LIBRA it says in fancy font across the bottom. I have posters, calendars, and books on Elvis Presley. Numerous more books on rock ‘n roll, and Rolling Stone compilations, etc.  I was surprised to find I had more than one book on England–some simply images of the countryside, some tour guides, and some chronicled histories, including an anthology on the kings and queens.

My photo albums are chock full of pictures of myself as a child. On an antique step ladder that I use for decorative purposes are photographs of my grandparents as children. I have another framed picture of my father and uncle as young boys. Then there are the lighthouses–tiny knick knack versions of course. My grandfather–formerly of the Coast Guard–was an avid collector. I also have an image of a lighthouse I took with my digital camera on the background of my computer. And cats…paintings, books, and a humorous tapestry that says, “The more I get to some people, the more I like the cat.” Plus two real live ones that like to rub against my face as I write.

I could go on (Thomas Kinkade desk calendar, prints, and collectors’ coffee table books), but I’ll stop and say this: At one point or another, all of these things have turned up in my work. We all write for various reasons, and sometimes we get too caught up in the ‘business’ side of it–publications, queries, conferences, platform building, etc. and while these elements of living the writing life are both important and thrilling, I think sometimes we forget that writing is a subliminal, unconscious process that can help us connect to our hidden depths, those things that make us who we are. Writing is channeling, it’s drudging up the dirt, and these ‘obsessions’ of ours are symbols, or keys have you, that unlock what we consider to be important.

So I’m interested…what are YOUR obsessions, and do they, perhaps inadvertently or not, reveal themselves in your writing?

5 Comments

Filed under Inspiration, Prompts & Writing Ideas, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Process, Writing Tips

Just maybe

“We, and I think I’m speaking for many writers, don’t know what it is that sometimes comes to make our books alive. All we can do is to write dutifully and day after day, every day, giving our work the very best of what we are capable. I don’t think that we can consciously put the magic in; it doesn’t work that way. When the magic comes, it’s a gift.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

It’s true. I wonder everyday if what I’m writing is good enough, interesting enough, worthy enough. I dreamed that one of my short stories received an honorable mention in a particular contest. When I woke, feeling jubilant no doubt, I realized that I never submitted that story to said contest. I’d let the deadline pass, assumed another rejection. My dream woke me up (no pun intended). What I really let pass was an opportunity.

They’ll be more contests. Not all is lost. But maybe my subconscious is telling me that it’s possible. Everyday I pray, not for success or fame or bestselling novels, but for belief. To dare believe I can do this. Perhaps it’s working? I’m pushing myself to break through?

I’m not sure that what I’m doing is groundbreaking. To be honest, that’s not really my intention. All I truly want is to believe. Yes, that and both the liberty and leisure to able to write more. My whole life maybe. This sounds so pseudo-inspirational. But to me it’s actually very important. Regardless of what happens.

So I won’t stop. I’ve been rewriting my novel and discovering all the things it didn’t have the first time around. Now it does. It brings me personal happiness each day. In this endeavor that’s all I can hope for. If not for that, I don’t have much. I’m glad I’m learning to understand this.

2 Comments

Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Fears, Writing Process, Writing Tips

Perpetual Darkness

“I do not rewrite unless I am absolutely sure that I can express the material better if I do rewrite it. —William Faulkner

Well, Faulkner, that’s my problem these days. I can never tell when I’m finished. The other problem is, I always think I can express it better. For me, my already written text is like an iceberg–stands in the way, won’t move, won’t budge, actually, and blocks a calm, smooth sail. It’s a crutch, a challenge, a ‘hard place,’ if you will.

The other night I dreamed I was sitting in a park on a bench as day gradually turned to night. At one point I thought to myself, ‘Hmm, it’s dark, maybe I should get up and go.’ I began to feel spooked actually, so I got to my feet, and strolled over towards another bench, where apparently all my stuff was: my school bag, my purse, and, oddly, a small, brown dog. I fumbled around aimlessly, trying to collect my items as the duskiness of night set in. I don’t have a dog. I’ve never seen this one in my life. But I picked him up, along with my other (less furry) cumbersome items and began to walk.

Then I was walking down my grandparents’ street–towards their house, I suppose–and the world began to light up again, gradually, in degrees. I still held onto my things, dog included, but I felt resolute in making it all the way to my grandparents’ house without dropping anything.

All my dream research points to darkness as a sign of doom, evil, the death of the spirit. But I don’t think I believe that–not in this context anyway. I think I’m ‘in the dark,’ about what my writing should look like, should sound like, etc. I’m fumbling around, trying to figure it all out. I’m determined to hold on, to make it back, and little by little, the fog–or darkness, in this case–will dissipate.

I don’t think anything I’ve ever written is perfect. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tell. If there is even such a thing as ‘perfect writing.’ I’ll keep aiming for perfection; maybe one day I can get close.

Leave a comment

Filed under Revision, The Writing Life, Writing Details, Writing Fears, Writing Process

If you look closely…

“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. If we can’t make up stories about ordinary people, who can we make them up about? … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
—John Updike

Tonight I had dinner at my grandfather’s house. I’ve worked many hours in the past two days, and taught various classes. Before heading to Grandpa’s I decided to stop at a county park near his house and relish in twenty to thirty minutes of down time. I think it’s crucial for intrinsic writers–or your everyday introvert– to do this occasionally. I’m both. A writer, an introvert. It’s crucial. Reflection periods. I used to think that more people ought to do this. But today it occurred to me that if everyone did it, then parks like mine would be swamped with run-of-mill thinkers and philosophers like myself. And that would just kill my vibe.

Either way, I’m always surprised to find that others do the same. Today, a kooky woman parked her car next to me and proceeded to empty out the contents of her trunk and back seat into the mesh wire garbage bin planted in front of the man-made pond. Afterwords, she just…chilled…in her back seat, retrieving pieces of paper off her car floor and reading aloud to herself (I could tell; her lips were moving). My first thought? Are she and I the same breed?

Speaking of backseats. When I initially pulled into said park, an Acura SUV had been trailing behind me. Get off my ass, I’m thinking. You’re really staring to irritate me, Lady (introverted philosopher or not, I’m still from Northern Jersey). She kept moving her vehicle to the side, like she wanted to blast past me, but kept herself from doing it. She pulled into the same parking lot I did–naturally– and by this point my ‘Zen Zone’ was wavering. She breaks next to a black Mercedes. An older man steps out from the Benz, and leans into the talk to the aggressive Acura driver. Meanwhile, I kill my ignition and wait. I’m just dying to see what the bitch who was trailing me looks like. When she gets out of the car–I’d say mid-forties, long reddish hair, in shape–and she and the old man slip into the back seat, which by the way is clandestinely hidden by oh-so-illegal tinted windows. Valentine’s Day affair? I kept waiting for the car start rocking back and forth.

A little while later, a man in mid-fifties parks to the other side of me. The second he shifts gears he rubs his face with his hands. I hear you, Man, I thinking. I need it too. When a flock of geese take off in a V-Shaped flight, beckoning loudly enough for the world to hear, his eyes follow them as mine do, and again…I’m surprised. I’m surprised to find there are others like me.

I think as intrinsic writers, if we pay attention, there are cues and stories all over the place. Parks and sanctuaries, though they seem uneventful, are a haven for those who want to shut down. Who want to watch the simplistic lives of wildfowl. Who think they can be themselves because no one else is watching…

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Prompts & Writing Ideas, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Tips

Oh there you are…

Writers shouldn’t fall in love with characters so much that they lose sight of what they’re trying to accomplish. The idea is to write a whole story, a whole book. A writer has to be able to look at that story and see whether or not a character works, whether or not a character needs further definition.”
—Stephen Coonts

Last week I received some feedback on one of my major female characters. Apparently, compared to another female character, she didn’t ‘jump off the page,’ as they say. This surprised me greatly. I’ve spent much more time thinking about Character A than Character B. Character A arrived in my thoughts with any beckoning. Character B was not forged, but certainly planned. Yet somehow, according to my small group of readers, Character B–in the draft they were shown– leaped, tumbled, and sprang, forward while Character A mostly stayed put.

I’m aware that some characters arrive more organically. As I’ve said before, these are the guys that show up uninvited bearing no food, drink, or gift. But what about those characters who I swear I know, see clearly, hear impeccably, feel intimately…but yet, don’t get expressed properly in the prose?

So I rewrote her. I opened up a new document, titled it after her name, and wrote her whole story. Then I took the various bits and pieces of text and placed them (I hope) strategically in the all right places. When I read over the revisions, I was astonished by how weakly I’d characterized her in former drafts. She is perhaps the most important female character in the story! I’d cheated her, in a sense. But what’s strange, the way in which I finally brought her to light, is exactly the way I’d always envisioned her. Now, thank goodness, so can everyone else.

I guess sometimes we intrinsic writers can lose perspective. We are so enmeshed in our creations that we develop a sort of ‘blind spot’ towards them. I see what I see, even no one else does. Even if it’s absurdly obvious. I learned something important from this critique though. Don’t shortchange your people. They don’t deserve it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Characters, Revision, The Writing Life, Writing Details, Writing Process

Love Thy Writing

The most important thing is you can’t write what you wouldn’t read for pleasure. It’s a mistake to analyze the market thinking you can write whatever is hot. You can’t say you’re going to write romance when you don’t even like it. You need to write what you would read if you expect anybody else to read it.

And you have to be driven. You have to have the three D’s: drive, discipline and desire. If you’re missing any one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.”
—Nora Roberts

This is legitimate advice: Love Thy Writing. Whenever I read a book that I love, it lingers…days after I’ve finished, weeks after I’ve finished, months after I’ve finished, and yes, years, sometimes. I’ll catch glimpses of it in my mind at various, unexpected moments. It’ll shoot waves of comfort through me, no matter if what kind of situation–pleasant or unpleasant–I am in.

I know I love my own novel, because it too, catches me in the midst of my day. I see the images, I feel the characters, and I sink into the setting. Sometimes it’s as if it were another person’s work, not my own. I imagine that this is a good sign; after all, I’ve written a novel that I adore, that I cherish. I’ve formulated such a story that if I were to ever come across it in a bookstore, I’d pick it up, take it home, and devour it. I’d long to spend Saturday night at home with it. I’d read it in days, or maybe even hours. Upon completion, I’d press it against my heart and wrap my arms tightly around it. OK, maybe not so dramatic-like, but something to that effect. Either way, I’d feel the ripples of the tale undulating throughout my being. And in a small, but significant way, I’d be forever changed.

Is this to say that my book has this kind of mega power? It can magnetically grip all who treads upon it? No, sadly, I don’t believe that’s the case. My wish, my life goal though, is that someone will…love my book that is. Of course by someone, I mean other than me. I know it’s not perfect, and frankly, in writing, nothing ever is. I’m aware of the work it needs, and I plan on seeing that through. But it’s comforting to know that I do, in fact, love my book. I love it. So much. That fact alone makes all the painstaking revision, all the doubt, all the self-torture one-hundred and fifty percent worth the while.

Any intrinsic writer must enjoy his or her story. It comes with the territory. I used to wonder if musicians or singers loved their own songs. I imagine they must, they have to. At least the ones who write the songs themselves, anyway. I just can’t imagine the process being any other way.

Leave a comment

Filed under Breaking Through, Characters, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Fears, Writing Process

Perceptivity

“[The writer] has to be the kind of man who turns the world upside down and says, lookit, it looks different, doesn’t it?”
—Morris West

I like to look for signs. In fact, I ask for signs. As an intrinsic writer, I believe the world overlaps with itself. I believe that cues are sent to me constantly, as if to remind me of my purpose. Writers do this sort of thing–make sense of hints, harbingers, and omens–because often, our work and our stories are filled with these kinds of notions. Good stories foreshadow, symbolize, represent, etc. Well, I think in life, it’s the same thing. As a writer, I’m just programmed to notice it.

One afternoon I drove to the mall and parked next to a minivan that was sporting a bumper sticker with the title of my novel splashed across it. It isn’t a common phrase, really. And I’d never seen it on a bumper sticker. Haven’t since either. Another time, my brother was watching a recap of a football game on television, and in a screen shot of the facts and stats of two players, I noticed that they shared the names of two of my male characters.

Last week, when meeting with my thesis adviser, she asked me if my novel is written in the first person. I said that yes, it is. Then later on while driving home, I wound up behind a car with a vanity license plate that said (I kid you not) “1 POV.” Very strange. I followed this car almost all the way to my house. I’d never seen it before that night. I haven’t seen it since.

One of the best essays I wrote as an undergrad was titled “Empathy and Intuition Among the Characters of Mrs. Dalloway.” I picked out scenes in the novel where the characters seemed to have unspoken communication. Where they read the minds of one another, and seemed to understand what each was going through. My husband-to-be and I often text each other throughout the day, just to say hi. Last week at precisely 12:30 p.m. I thought to myself: haven’t checked my phone in a while. I bet he sent me a message. Sure enough, a text came through at almost the exact same time. I found out last Sunday that an old neighbor had passed away. This morning I woke up thinking about the last time I had spoken to her. She had told me that she liked to practice Reiki healing. An hour or so later, while visiting a the blog of a fellow blogger, I saw that she too, mentioned using Reiki on sick animals.

There are many more where this came from. In writing, our characters pick up on these kind of cues both as a means of plot structure, and significance for the overall story. But I’m convinced, that if one pays attention, this kind of stuff happens in real life…all the time.

1 Comment

Filed under Characters, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Process