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Going Beyond The Story

Extras From Girl With Broken Wings

 

One of the best and most fulfilling aspects of writing a novel is the ability to construct your own world and to inhabit the minds of different people. Placing your characters in a certain situation and moving them forward requires you to understand their motivations on a deep very intimate level.

I think there are plenty of talented authors who don’t heft the shovel and dig too deeply into their characters or components of the plot, but those books don’t appeal to me very much. I can tell when an author truly knows his or her characters, when they hear the whisper of their characters in their heads and see their characters living, talking, dreaming beyond the scope of the story. These are the same authors who build a vibrant, amazingly-detailed world. It’s not just because they are extremely imaginative (though they are that too, of course), but also because they are inside the world themselves.

The writing process for my Girl With Broken Wings series doesn’t start with a blank Word doc on my laptop. It doesn’t end there either. Every day my characters whisper to me, and I watch them move in the long stretches of time between action. I see the house they live in, watch them on the gritty rooftops where they wait to take their shot, feel the endless vibrations of their SUV as they cross the country, always hunting, fighting, delivering.

Of course, all of this background can’t possibly fit into the books. Instead, it must peek out in short clips before the action, in a casual remark dropped into a conversation or in a quick observation by the narrator. These tiny details are stiches in a much larger quilt that makes up the invisible foundation of a story.

I’ve written down a few patches of this quilt and listed them on my website under extras for anyone who is interested in going a level deeper into the world of Girl With Broken Wings. The extras include:

For all you writers out there, don’t be afraid to let your characters speak or to follow them around in your mind even when they’re off the clock. Observe them and allow them the freedom to move on their own without your guidance or requirements of the plot. Observe their world, and if it is gray and fuzzy, then populate it. Add a weird vase in the character’s house and then figure out why it’s there. None of this will likely end up in your story directly, but it will be there just below the surface, adding a deeper layer that readers will recognize and appreciate.

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