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Giving Voice

To me, words are like musical notes in a piece of music. And just like musical notes, the wrong word in a dialogue or description sticks out with painful clarity. At one point or another I have read every single word in this book out loud. Words have a rhythm; a cadence to them. Writers can spend hours trying to get one sentence right, and when it does, it just clicks.

A novelist may compose awe-inspiring, pre-planned speeches for their characters to espouse. But something occurs after the stick figures you’ve been shuffling around begin to develop a heart and feelings. They develop personalities, idiosyncrasies, and opinions on just about everything. And they are not hesitant to declare these opinions. It is an exhilarating moment but causes endless rewrites.

Farr was the most reticent. Try as I might, he would only utter the briefest sentences. Even during highly emotional scenes in the story when he needed to say SOMETHING. It frustrated both of us, but it was who Farr was. I’d created him, and we both had to live with it.

And sometimes they run just a bit amok.

Case in point: Farr's scene with Amparo. Farr and Amparo have met, and hold a conversation on the deck of the ship. Farr tells Amparo his plans to marry Katrinka. Amparo flat out says the relationship won't work.

I was going to have Farr voice a minor disagreement; some placating platitude to persuade Amparo. But abruptly and without any warning, Farr’s angry words came blasting out of my fingertips and I could only stare at them with stupefaction.

After the initial shock wore off, I knew that was exactly what Farr WOULD say.

Fed up with Katrinka.

Fed up with the war.

Fed up with everything for cripes sake.

Time was running out. All he ever wanted in this world was a family, and this was JUST ONE MORE THING.

I let him say it and let Amparo deal with it. He did, and it all worked out.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.

A writer must trust the characters they create.


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