Thursday, June 24, 2010

Little Voices

By Beth Terrell

I've been struggling with the third book in my Jared McKean series for awhile now. I had much of the plot laid out, and a number of chapters written, but it wasn't coming together the way I wanted it to. Then, a few nights ago, that little voice in the back of my head said:


"Hey, yourself," I said, hoping I could brush it off and get on with my story. But no. Like the guy in the cartoons that opens his coat to sell you a dozen fake Rolexes, the little voice was not to be denied.

You know what the problem with this book is?

"No, but I suppose you're going to tell me."

The problem with this book is that it isn't a Jared book.

"What do you mean, this isn't a Jared book? Jared's my series character. I love him!"

Yup. But this ain't his book.

"Then whose book is it?"

It's Emma's.

"But...I don't like Emma."

Well, you'd better learn to like her, because this is her book. And it's not gonna work until you give it to her.

"But...what about Jared? I'm not done with him yet."

You know that other book you've been thinking about? The one about human trafficking?


That one's his.


I'm tellin' ya, kid. This is how it's gotta be.


Trust me.

So I sit back and think it over, and darned if all those plot problems I'd been having didn't start to fall right into place. Not perfect yet, mind you, but getting there. I thought about Emma. She's prickly and opinionated and obstinate, and we don't see eye to eye on much of anything, but as I dig deeper into her character, I begin to find more and more things to like about her. The story begins to come into focus.

I find this annoying, because a friend in my critique group had suggested some time ago that this not be Jared's story, and I didn't want to hear it then any more than I want to hear it now. She's a gracious soul, though, and probably won't spend too much time on I-told-you-so's.

I think of that beautiful opening scene I've written for Jared and realize it's the perfect beginning for "that other book, the one on human trafficking."

Told ya so, says the voice in my head.

I pretend not to hear. I have writing to do.


Jean Henry Mead said...

The moment of truth that we've been ignoring for chapters finally wakes us up. I've had it happen too, Beth, and it rarely makes me happy. My little voice usually makes me rewrite thousands of words or kill off a character I love. :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Funny, Beth, but some of my "best openers" I've also had to shed for one reason or another. Nice of your little voice to chime in:)