I got my next-book-in-line-for-publication back after the first edit. Mostly, I’ve been accepting changes and there are a few sections I need to rework so that they happen in real time, instead of how I originally penned them.
What fascinated me in reading through this novel is the character arc. If I didn’t know what that was before, I certainly know now.
My heroine is Camille, who is an efficient, tightly-wound woman. She doesn’t trust men because of her irresponsible father and the roller-coaster-like relationships her girlfriends have.
The hero, Quinn, is smitten by Camille, but has his own issues with his father, who mostly ignored him during his formative years. He also wondered whether he had the stick-to-it-iveness needed to woo a woman who clearly had a low opinion of him.
The editor remarked about eight chapters in that he liked the characters and the story. I thought ‘yeah me!’, but apart from them being likeable it was an experience over these weeks watching them evolve from a place of distrust and resentment to move toward forgiveness and acceptance.
Their individual circumstances forced Camille and Quinn to make certain choices. And it was in the making of these decisions that they showed their mettle. Both Camille and Quinn are decisive people who take action without waiting around for challenges to get more complex.
Camille started out giving Quinn no quarter. However, as kidnapping, blackmail and murder overtook them, she was forced to admit that Quinn wasn’t quite the stereotypical-good-looking-skirt-chasing man she first assessed him to be.
Quinn had to exercise patience just through being around Camille to support her during difficult times. His fortitude eventually made her reassess her initial opinions of him.
Of course, I had the obligatory ex in there who made things awkward for these two. This was another area in which my girl had to put the brakes on and learn how to trust that her man wouldn’t fall into bed with the other woman simply because she was willing and available.
So over the thirty-five chapters of this novel I watched my two main characters overcome their weaknesses and fight quirks that made them hard to live with. I watched them deal with situations that tested their belief systems even while they were called on to bolster others around them during difficult situations.
Without these imperfections their story wouldn’t have been quite as interesting and they both would not have had room to grow. And that’s part of what enthralls readers, watching characters grow and mature and overcome what sometimes feel like insurmountable problems.
What’s also fascinating is that as we mature as writers, we learn to unconsciously mould our characters and help them work through their problems, so that they emerge as more rounded and triumphant people at the end of our stories. In a way, writing is like preparing a meal. You know when that gravy or soup is left to simmer until it's just the right thickness?
Everything has to slowly come together in a tale that whets the appetite. My hero/heroine cannot end his/her story as the same person the reader met on page one. Otherwise, there will be no lessons learned and what would then be the point of telling their story?
Do your consciously plan this aspect of your novels or do your characters naturally follow a path of growth to emerge as better individuals on that last page?