May 15, 2012

On characters, voices, and maybe even acting

A curious thing happened last night.

I sat down to write upstairs. 

That, in and of itself, is not curious. Often if Charles is watching something that I find distracting but don't care to watch, I'll head upstairs to work while he stays downstairs. Sometimes the quiet of upstairs (even despite the constant meowing of Fluffy Cat Owen) helps me to focus more on the task at hand.

Last night, I got into my jammies (I have a four-year-old - they are jammies.), took out my contacts, piled my messy hair up on top of my head in a silly ponytail, and threw on my glasses. I balanced my computer atop an owl-pillow on my bed, and I began to work on a chapter narrated by Lola. 

It's easy for me to write in the voice of Jenna, my first narrator who started out as a younger-me, and Sam, the college boy who reminds me of all my old friends.  But Lola? She's...tricky. Difficult. She's a mess, battered both literally and figuratively. A Southern belle gone terribly awry. Full of self-loathing, embarrassment, anger, and confusion.

I often work harder on Lola's chapters than on any others, and still, I never feel like I get her voice completely right.

But last night was different. Better.

I don't know if it was the quiet, the solitude, of working in my bedroom with the distant strains of George Winston flowing out from Zoe's room.  I don't know if I was more alert than usual, or more sleepy. Maybe it was the ponytail and the glasses.

I don't know.

But I do know that suddenly Lola's voice came easily. I didn't just see her side of things; I was in her side of things. Thinking in her terms, understanding her better than I ever have before.

I felt like I imagine a method actor feels when totally immersed in their craft.

The writing flowed, and in an hour I'd finished the chapter with which I'd wrestled the night before, which I expected to take three more days at least.  2200 words and an hour's worth of work, and it was done.

And it was good.

I mean, I'll still go back and tweak, edit. I'm still a better editor than I am a writer. But I don't think this chapter will require the extensive rewriting I'm used to for Lola's chapters.

So I'm pretty excited. I finally found her voice. I finally, truly found Lola.

What's great about this is I'll be diving back into Book 1 with my editor in the next few weeks. And now? Now I can make Lola's scenes even cooler than before.

1 comment:

Jocelyn Rish said...

That's awesome! They don't happen to me very often, but I love those moments when I get so into the character that the writing becomes almost like an out-of-body experience.

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