Saturday, February 25, 2006

When Art Imitates Life (or something like that)

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I hate winter.

No. Seriously. I hate it. I hate the shivering as I climb out of my warm bed in the mornings and run across the cold hardwood floor to the bathroom. I hate the feeling of icy slush that gets inside my shoes whenever I go outside. I hate having to drive in snow and I hate having to walk in snow, and I especially hate having to move the snow that is in my driveway, whether by shovel or snowblower, which pretty much covers all aspects of snow.

Bottom line here, people, I hate winter.

So, is it any wonder then that the protagonist of my latest WIP hates winter, too?

Now, I’m not talking about a mild dislike of winter. Nope. She actually hates it. Read a few chapters and you’ll know what I mean because she comments on it. A lot.

(Probably too much I’m thinking, which is why I’m constantly having to go back and edit.)

Now, I remember back in the 1990’s, I had this heroine in a romance I was writing for Bantam who seemed to be obsessed with food. I’d re-read scenes I’d written a few days later and find paragraph after long (boring) paragraph that described food. Food she ate in a restaurant. Food she was thinking of eating when she got home. Food she’d eaten when she was a kid. I mean, seriously, the woman was obsessed with food.

My CP at the time had called me and said that I either had to stop dieting while I wrote the book, or—

Okay, she didn’t have a second suggestion. She just said I needed to stop dieting while I wrote the book. The thing was, my own obsessions were beginning to overshadow the obsessions of my characters.

So, my question for this snowy (what else?) February morning is...

For the writers out there: Do you ever find your characters have taken on your own obsessions? If so, how do you handle it?

For the readers out there: Have you ever suspected that this was happening? If so, how did it affect your enjoyment of the book?


JoAnn Ross said...

LOL about the food. This is going to sound spooky, but for me it tends to be the other way around. By the end of a book I'll have taken on my characters' obsessions. (A little dangerous now that I'm writing serial killers. LOL)

Colleen Thompson said...

I laughed about the food, too. I think that a lot of the characters I create take on little facets of my personality. Which is why, I suppose, most of my heroines adore dogs and don't care about shopping.

JoAnn Ross said...

Okay, as for the facets of the personality, I suppose that's true in my case, too. Back in the mid 80s I gave a speech to some journalists and was trying to explain to these fact-oriented writers how I create characters.

I said that I often started out by giving my characters some of my flaws. And with my number of flaws, I figured I could write for a very long time before I ran out of stories. Well, so far, I've made it 23 years. Which, if I thought about it overly much, could prove depressing, given that all those books represent a LOT of flaws. LOL

Shanna Swendson said...

I developed much of my fondness for sexy, impractical shoes through a character rubbing off on me (I'd always loved shoes, but until that point had never bought anything that wasn't black, beige or navy). On the other hand, I've often allowed my characters to say things I want to say. I try to make sure those things are still in character for that character, but quite often my characters do agree with me on such issues as which movie stars really are good-looking and whether or not designer purses are worth the hype. My heroines generally share my taste in men, too.

JoAnn Ross said...

Faye wrote: For the readers out there: Have you ever suspected that this was happening?

I have a writer friend who has, several times, either consciously or subconciously, written slightly differing versions of her divorce and romance leading up to her second marriage. I have to admit, that there are times, when I'm reading the really, really hot stuff, I can't help wondering if perhaps she's telling me more about her marriage than I need to know. LOL

Anonymous said...

You guys have had me laughing over my morning coffee. JoAnn, especially, with those comments about how she's emulating her serial killers. LOL.

Now, as for the writer whose books dealt with her divorce and remarriage - that makes sense to me. Writing is cheap therapy. *g*