take your characters on a journey

There is a great feeling of relief when you finish writing a book.  I’ve just completed my 14th, and finally typed it into the computer (I always write in longhand first);  wrote a satisfying The End  and sent it off in a Word doc. to my literary agent in New York.  First, I felt sad that I wouldn’t be living with the characters every day as I have been doing for a few months; but then a great feeling of freedom came over me that I now had time for other things, including this Blog which I have been neglecting lately.

I want to write today about taking your characters on a journey.  Readers need to go through the ups and downs, experience the traumas, revel in the successes of your characters; they need to live vicariously.

The destination is never as important as the journey itself.  To begin, your characters must be on the verge of change.  They  might only journey in the smallest , least noticeable of ways, yet we feel utter satisfaction.  Not all journeys are the same.  There are overt ones, like losing a job, getting a promotion,  falling in love, having children – but beneath the surface there are also the inner journeys, the profound journeys.

Seeing other people for who they are is not easy.   While it is a profound journey in its own right, it is still only a partial journey.  An abused wife might get rid of her husband but a year later fall back into the old relationship, even with a new partner.   Breaking a symptom does not necessarily break a pattern.  The character needs self-realization – to take personal responsibility for their lives.  It can be triggered from within, but often it is caused by an outside source such as the words of a teacher, a friend, the clergy.  Then it should be followed by action – the kind that your reader will find deeply satisfying.

Friendships can change a person’s life.   Physical changes in the body  can cause a powerful surface journey , as our appearance is often equated with identity.  The search for knowledge can also be a powerful motive for undertaking a journey.     A character who starts out with no children and has three by the end of your book will be a different person, as will one who gains  a sibling (by birth or marriage). While family feels like the most permanent thing in the world, it is always changing – birth, death, marriage, divorce. Obstacles are helpful tools at your disposal – they prolong the journey, cause conflict and aid in suspense.  When you take your characters on a journey, you’ll find you travel with them until you – and they- reach their final destination.

Happy writing!  I am always happy to hear your comments.





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