Courtney S. Barr

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Patience: Scene changes & arguing with a character

It is Sunday everyone. We (Bama) beat LSU yesterday so my morning was blissful at wake up. Beautiful day, no clouds, nice breeze, leaves falling and November is gorgeous in the South. Perfect day, right?

Fast forward to late afternoon.

I had worked on my manuscript this morning, reading my current pages and tweaking a few scenes. Content with the progress and needing to take my husband lunch (he had to go into the office today) I decided to scoot by the mall. I do so, discover an adorable outfit within my budget, see hubbie for a moment then head back to the house quite happy with the outing.

After spending some quality time with iTunes I stop to listen to a new selection. You see this is my inherent problem and solution all balled up into one. Music is essential when I write. I love to listen to music that applies to the scenes I am working on. I tend to write visually whenever music plays. This can be wonderful and it can be confusing. A simple scene that is not meant to turn heated between characters might if the sound system is carrying the right/wrong tune. Thus leading to magic or deletion.

So here I am just listening to some music that reminds me of a scene I worked on this morning and then it happens. My character's voice rises above the song. It seems she thinks that scene just did not feel right, aggravating as it is, I think it over. At first I quickly dismiss the thought and find myself arguing with her in my head. Then I discover that it might need to be considered. She is right. Yep. I open the file, turn the song down a little to more background audio and find myself three hours later having completely rewritten the scene and having to piece a few chronological changes together.

I cursed, grumbled and typed. It is amazing how allowing the idea of a new layout affects the scene. Humor found its way into a tight situation and does so without being campy. I can almost feel the smugness of the character.

My style of writing is one that tries my patience but seems to teach me every time I let the story flow. There are many occasions where I resist the impulse to change something just because I am stubborn or because I feel I know better than the character. More often than not the end result is much better when I just relax, trust my characters and let my fingers walk.

So again, patience is a virtue. Don't we all know that one? I just wonder if the author of that line ever thought about patience being applied when an imaginary person you created is arguing with you...


  1. Hi Courtney :)
    Thank you for sharing.
    I like how the characters lead the writer.
    All the best,

  2. That's always the best when the characters lead you or let you know what's wrong. Mine don't really do that, they just start walking and I have no choice but to followe and see where they lead. But glad the scene improved!

  3. RK - as always thank you for stopping by! There are moments when I love that they take control then there are moments when I really wish I could strangle them! ;o) Those are the moments my husband seriously questions my sanity.

    Frankie - Thanks for wandering around the kingdom! ;o) Yeah my stubborn attitude tends to have me looking at them like "So are you typing this or am I?" But then that aggravating patience slips in and I have to listen to their rants! lol

  4. Oh girl--I feel you! My characters lead me all over the place and I've learned not to fight them--at least not at first. I tend to pass the scene over into their hands when I first put it to paper (er...pixels) and then slip my voice in during the revision process--it usually works out better that way.

    But it's hard. When plotting my series, a character popped up (of his own free will no less--I didn't even need him) took over, made me fall in love with him, and then broke my heart when he told me what he's going to do in later books. (My husband can attest to this. We were in Europe on vacation and I started crying on the train ride to Scotland when I finally caved in and changed the outline).

    Characters--they have lives of their own. (Or maybe I really do need professional help.)


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