Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Contest, A Character

I’ve been encouraged to offer a contest, but I couldn’t think what prize to offer. Then, going through our storage room and making a final sort of boxes left over from our move a year ago (!) I realized I still have rather a large quantity of quilting fabric. I’ve got my quilt, it’s beautiful, but I’m not going to make another. And here’s this lovely fabric, many varieties and colors with one theme: Chickens. Realistic chickens, cartoon chickens, artistic chickens, big and little. Even eggs and chicken wire. Black and white, bright colors, pastels. I don't know how many yards, maybe four? A couple of pounds, anyway. Some cut into squares, others in fat-quarter size.

If you would like this fabric, write and tell me why. Twenty-five words or less. I’ll even pay postage.

Go to my website,, and contact me through that. Contest ends July 31, 2008.
All writers know the phenomenon: a character in a book suddenly rising and taking over the reins of his or her role from the author. Disconcerting and sometimes exciting – but sometimes it’s annoying. I have been inventing a new boyfriend for my gay character Godwin. Goddy lost his long-time lover quite a few books back, and was accused of his murder. Of course he didn’t do it, Betsy proved that. But since he got over the shock and mourning, he’s been kind of playing the field, date-wise. I have finally decided he needs to settle down, find someone really nice who is also good for him – and whom he can be good for. I came up with this gorgeous young man named Rafael Centillas, a naturalized American citizen born in Mexico. He was supposed to be aloof on the surface but kind and funny underneath. Sweet and perhaps a trifle shy. But the guy who walked into the needlework shop in this scene I’m working on is self-assured and just the teensiest bit abrasive. Fortunately, he still really likes Godwin. I think Godwin likes him, too.
I like a character who knows his own mind, and who will grow into a role in a book. But it’s annoying how, after two dozen novels, I can still lose control over a character right at the start. I’m tempted to tear down that scene in the novel and start it again. Re-boot, so to speak. But maybe I should just let him have his head, at least for awhile.


Allison said...

I'd say let him have his head and see where it goes. He is, after all, someone you created, so in essence it's your subconscious you'd be giving free reign to.

Monica Ferris said...

Allison, you have a very valid point. I have normally done that, the characters are more realistic if I let them do at least some of the talking. I just had this one person in mind for Godwin, but the person I got is different. I'm going to let him have his way for now.

BeadKnitter said...

What a fascinating post this time Monica. I've often wondered how characters are developed in stories. I think Goddy would be happier with someone more self assured. He needs someone to keep him in line once in awhile.

Camille Minichino said...

A love triangle. What a perfect set-up! Let it play out!

riona said...

By all means give him his head and see where he takes you ... and Godwin. Godwin has got to be one of my favorite characters in the ensemble ... he always dares to say what everybody else is thinking but is too polite to utter. I'd love to see him begin a relationship ... one that isn't dysfunctional like his last ... and learn to love in a mature and healthy fashion. And an abrasive Mexican-American ... well, that just might be the man who brings out the best in Goddy.

Beverly said...

I'm so glad that you have someone for Goddy! He's my favorite character-- I'd adopt him any day.

J.K. Rowling and Mary Wallace are two writers who have talked about their characters taking over and doing whatever they wanted. Having done some writing when I was in school (too many years ago to mention!), I understand and empathize.