Drinking Water

Characters Should Always Thirst

When I taught creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away–even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.—Kurt Vonnegut

Even though Vonnegut coined those words, I didn’t hesitate to borrowed them for my own creative writing class. I have to say they worked. For my students, it gave them a place to start. If they didn’t already have a starting place for a story, all they had to do was dig into themselves a bit. No doubt, each of us has a desire for something more out of life than just the same-old-same-old. Right?

Today I’m trying to decide what my main character in my Trilogy, The Beryl Stone, wants in the third book of the series.

In the first novel, Dancing Naked in the Rain, which has been published, Megan leaves her teaching job and goes to Scotland to begin a new career in travel writing. Along the way she gets distracted and mesmerized by a handsome Scot–nothing new  here. However, she also gets caught up in a spell–a deadly love spell–with the handsome man, and the remainder of the novel involves otherworldly twists and turns that keep her wondering how she got herself into such a mess and how she’s going to get herself out.

The second of the series is still in manuscript form, but is finished. In it, well, I just can’t tell you that. But I will say that she is on one adventure after another throughout the entire story, and the suspense will bind you to the chair. Bear in mind, that this novel, Stars Walking Backwards, is also a love story. Actually, I don’t think I could write anything that wasn’t based on romance. That’s just the way I’m made.

Now, Megan still wants water–and something else. I’m not sure what it is at the moment and that’s why I’ve started this blog–to figure it out before I get started. Mind you, I’m not one of those authors who outlines the plot, takes copious notes, keeps a journal, a log, or what-have-you. You might say, much to my embarrassment, that I fly by the seat of my pants. Of course, that’s not entirely true. I do a lot of ground work before I begin, like dig in the garden or even travel to Scotland and other romantic places. Really!

I do know this: Megan has a strong desire–as I do–to know something more about her ancestors, and as dull as this sounds, I think I’m going to accept the challenge: how to make the story fun, suspenseful, and still romantic, even if it does deal with a lot of dead people.

I must end with this note: Megan is not paralyzed with the meaninglessness of modern life. Not by any means. She’s a young woman who is infatuated with her Scottish lover and with the mysteries of the underworld that continue to badger her. And she desires so much more than a drink of water–just as I do.