Depeche Mode is definitely on the soundtrack to this story. But this post isn’t about music. It’s about trying to walk in the shoes of someone else. In all the years I’ve been writing stories, whether seriously or just playing around, I write from a female character’s point of view, usually first person. The only time I really wrote from a male pov was when I wrote Highlander fanfic and I’d write Duncan and Methos, though I did write a lot of Richie. They were already fleshed out and established characters, so my only challenge with them was getting them right. I wanted to be true to what their creators gave us. Now, that I’ve abandoned fanfiction all together and have gone back to writing original fiction and I have a whole toybox full of characters to play with.
I write Lena and Isabel as pretty much strong, independent women, with foilbles and failings. I think I’ve fleshed them both out well. They are two very different women and I don’t think they could be exchanged for each other. As it’s original fiction, I don’t think they are “Mary Sues” but I won’t deny that both of them have a lot of me in them. When I wrote fanfic, I had an orignal female character, who might have been a Mary Sue, though I tried to make her falliable and human, but if reading the stories I wrote, the reader didn’t get an impression that the writer favored Methos, then… I suppose I failed.
Having always written from a female point of view, I’ve found myself trying to create the perfect male protagonist. Andrew has become a character I’ve fallen head over heels in love with. He is far from perfect. I don’t want him to be perfect, but I don’t know if I’m fleshing out a male voice. I’ve written tons and tons of scenes or snippets of scenes from his pov, again first person, so I amtrying to walk in his shoes. Of course, I know nothing about waking up in a man’s body, I know nothing about what it’s like to be a priest, but I’m trying to imagine myself in the shoes of a thirtysomething man. So, what did I do? I started writing him as a sixteen year old boy. I’m finding myself challenged telling his story. He’s been bugging me to write it for a while. I’m trying. I’m not sure I’ll get anything. It’s hard because there are things I’m holding back or questioning myself about.
I have all sorts of reactions or thoughts that I don’t know what the answer is to when I write him. I have a very definite idea of what kind of a man he is and I know what kind of a priest he is. I know he’s kind and compassionate, well adjusted and happy in his vocation. I know he wonders about the girl he could have married, he sometimes wishes he could be a father, but then he can’t imagine not celebrating the Mass or serving God as one of his priests. He is open minded and willing to listen, but he’s also conservative and very serious. He pushes Isabel’s buttons and she his. They fight and they love each other deeply. Their relationship is complicated. I think being an only child and creating twins is a challenge, but I think I have their relationship down well.
Women, they are easy. I am one I can relate to them. Men, they’re complicated and interesting. Maybe that is why I’ve been trying to write Andrew. Maybe it’s the being in love with the character that compels me to tell his story, I don’t know.
Essentially when I sit down with a story idea, I always start off with the notion… what if this or what if that. I always imagine myself in the character’s shoes and go from there. With Lena it was, hmmm, what about a single woman, with a career, a boyfriend and what if she gets pregant and finds out she also has HIV. Isabel was different. A woman who was settling down and living someone else’s dreams, someone unfulfilled in her life and too afraid to start over but does. I think the feeling stuck in a moment you can’t get out of (to quote a U2 song title) is about what I most have in common with Isabel. We both have some pretty irrational fears. I don’t start things; she quits them. Then when the plot twist emerges, I put myself in her shoes and imagined how I’d react to the news she receives.
I have another new story, but I’m not writing much about that. Again, that is a very realistic story idea– with a huge what if to create the plot and story.
I guess I think too much sometimes. I wish I was actually working on a story, but everything is just laying fallow, to quote Debi, my writing friend.
I probably should blog in here a bit more, but I honestly don’t know what to blog in here.