I haven’t worked on my book in a few days. (Until today.) It seemed like every time I tried something just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t really pin point what the “something” was. It just wasn’t working. — Maybe it’ll help if I explain a little bit about my book.
I am currently writing a fiction book that revolves around a Marine & his wife. A couple of years ago I had this brilliant idea of a story. I still have that brilliant idea, though it is definitely all still in the beginning stages.
My husband served as a Navy Corpsman for five years, he worked alongside the Marines. He worked in their medical clinic & deployed with them. He seemed like the perfect person to go to for some research. He lived with them, worked with them, and ventured off to Afghanistan with them. He has plenty of insight. So he has been answering questions, giving me advice, helping me visualize things I have very little knowledge of, and correcting things that I get wrong. — However, it still felt like there was something missing. I have tons of information and I’m not struggling to write all the details down. So I haven’t been able to figure out the problem. — Until tonight.
Some may not understand this because not everyone writes fiction. Not everyone spends time coming up with characters. However I have spent a lot of time doing just that. So this may sound a little crazy to some of you, but every name in my head has characteristics attached to it. My imagination is full of undocumented characters & personality traits. When I come up with a name I like, sometimes that name doesn’t match the character. On top of that, in the case of this book, My main character has a wife, whose name also must match her personality & then on top of that, mesh just right with his. If that’s not enough, I have to get the last name just right too. — Yeah, I spent a lot of time playing with names & traits for this book. — Then the characters have to fit into the story just right. When I start to write about two characters I can immediately tell whether I’ve made the right decision… because it either flows or it doesn’t. I can’t pick just any name or plot… it all has to go together.. Readers can feel it too.
The characters I have now mesh perfectly. It felt right immediately. — The issue was my main character, whose name is Sam by the way, wasn’t fitting very well with his job. — Somewhere in the middle of writing about Sam earlier I thought to myself, “I want to write about a Corpsman. I think I will do that in my next book.” — As I continued typing, it hit me… my problem is that Sam is my Corpsman. It wasn’t working because I was making him a Marine, something he is not.
If you don’t write fiction, you may not realize how much this matters. Or it could just be me & my process. Sometimes you have to let the story speak to you in a way. You have to let it take you places, rather than take it places. When I was writing about Sam he took me to a place where I could see exactly who he was & who he wasn’t. (I promise I’m not crazy, lol) Sometimes authors don’t get it right and the characters help us find our way.
The moment I decided to make Sam the Corpsman that he is, as I was typing, it felt like a piece of the puzzle had just fallen into place. — Moments like those are game changers. I couldn’t get what I’d envisioned to work, I couldn’t connect with my characters on the level that I needed to. However, once I fixed Sam… it’s like the flood gates opened up. — I was going back in & changing some things here and there, I was tweaking the giant list of questions for my husband, I was making notes off to the side, and I began seeing the very picture I had envisioned in the beginning come to life. — It was the moment I knew this would work. It was the moment I knew without a doubt that this book would be written.
In the last year I have nearly given up on writing this because I kept hitting the same wall with Sam. (Also, I nearly gave up over lack of confidence in myself, but that’s a different story.) — I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I haven’t had this much fun writing in a while. When you’re getting it right and enjoying yourself immensely, that just makes the job twice as rewarding.
So, my game changer: I am now writing a book centered around a Corpsman, not a Marine. I may write about my Marine later, It’s just this story, this plot.. it’s about a Corpsman, and this story is the one on my heart right now.
So here’s to the game changers! — The moments in writing where some of the best magic happens! 🙂