For me, finding the right character to lead my story is usually the easy part. If they don’t come with the idea, they show up soon after to lead the way. But you know how things go in Story Land – every story is different.
I had a character that I’d been trying to find a story for, and I’d been trying for 3 years!! Around springtime, 2013, I put out a call for a “normal” person, and Riley showed up. And by normal, I mean no special abilities, no superhuman traits. Just a regular freaking girl that you can find in any mall in America. A lot of my main characters are gifted. This is fun, but like the vampire thing, sometimes you just want to write about something else. Or in this case, someONE else.
First, I tried a portal fantasy. Yeah, we know by now that I’ve tried just about everything – including stuff that I don’t even really like. But I like portal fantasies. Chronicles of Narnia is so great. But I am not CS Lewis. I don’t like writing portal fantasies. And I know this because as soon as I got to the fantasy world, I lost interest and bailed. It’s just really not my thing. However, in true me fashion, I tried again the next year with a different portal idea, thinking maybe the first one was just extra stupid. But again, as soon as we got to the fantasy world, I bailed.
I can take a hint (after a couple of knocks to the head), so I scrapped that completely and tried to do a paranormal thing. I had a plot and subplots and all that jazzy stuff, but it just didn’t feel right, and the story started to get stupid real fast. The fantasy elements were clashing with the contemporary elements, and it was just a big mess. The harder I tried to get it to make sense, the worse things got. I apologized to Riley, yet again, and told her I’d try again one day, maybe. (And speaking of this particular idea – it’s the only draft I’ve ever lost by accident. I have no idea where it went, to the point where I truly felt crazy one day when I was looking for it and questioned whether I had even started it or not).
So, a few weeks ago, I got to work and I’m parking my car, and I’m not thinking of anything in particular because I had just been driving so I was probably listening to music. And I had a thought about “The Puppet Box.” You see, I had the concept, and I was committing to the story, but I didn’t have any pathways connecting the beginning with the middle and middle to the end. I had nothing. I trusted that I would have something by the time I was ready to start working on it though, so no worries. In any case, at the time, the main character that was rolling around in my head for the story, well…I didn’t like her, and I wasn’t getting anything.
So, I’m parking my car and since my head is clear from listening to awesome music, my brain says to me, “What if you give the story to Riley?” And I was like, “Oh. Sure, yeah, I’ll think about it.” And before I could get in the door, I had ALL of my connector pieces. Makes me wonder if Riley and this idea came into my head at the same time. Since I have no idea how long the basic concept for this story was on the list before I fished it off, it really could be the case. Which could be the reason why I couldn’t get any of those other stories to work and why she was always acting so weird when I would try to get her to talk to me about them. She would literally have nothing to say. Because they weren’t her stories. But she did tell me all kinds of interesting things about herself.
So, I’m all kinds of excited to have finally found a good fit for her. I almost hate what’s going to happen to her in this story. 😈😳
Of course, I haven’t actually started the story yet, so it could still fall apart, but it won’t. I have that feeling about it – that good feeling. 🙂 It’s going to be amazing. And speaking of amazing, I’m already committed to what I want to write after this!! As tumultuous as drafting can be, I just love being all wrapped up in a story. ^_^