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Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Wendi Zwaduk

Loving You Against My Will

Every now and then I have that one character that chooses to go totally against the grain. I know, you’re so surprised—my having rebellious characters. Ok, so it’s not a shocker.

They rebel, and I accept it.

Most of the time.

This post is about one of the times that I butted heads with a character. You see, Cade is a loveable guy. My CP thinks he’s the beans. He is—and he’s extremely, how shall I put this...taciturn.

You may be thinking to yourself, well, if the guy is hard to get along with, that right there is how you butted heads with him, end of story. No, not really.

When I originally wrote Cade’s story, I envisioned him as more of the repressed but cuddly type. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get him to fit the mold. By nature he’s moody. Because of his most recent stint in Iraq, he’s damaged. What I couldn’t get into my thick head was, this guy isn’t going to be a cuddly teddy bear type.

Then I made the ultimate mistake in trying to get him to pair up with the wrong person. Yeah, that was a five alarm whoopsie. Each time I had him alone with the other person, he fought me tooth and nail. Now you’d think I’d say, hey, this isn’t working out quite right...maybe I should take a step back and try again later.

You’d think that.

Too bad I didn’t.

It took Cade finally saying, I’m not in love with you for me to realize that he, indeed, wasn’t in love with the person I’d envisioned him loving. Nope. He loved Melanie. “I’m with ___against my will. I want to be with Mel, I’m just not sure how to tell her. You know I suck with feelings.”

He was right. And it was at that point I let him take charge. Only a full year after I wrote the original draft of his story and had my credentials handed to me by more than one CP who said, "This guy isn’t gelling for me."

I look back and think, well, duh. He wasn’t for me either.

Why’d it take me so long to let him do his thing? I let my brain run the show. (Ok, that sounds odd, but it’s true). If I’d let him show me what he wanted to do and who he wanted to love, rather than focusing on getting the details of his PTSD right, then those details would’ve taken care of themselves.

Now let me tell you, he’s still taciturn. He has his way of doing things and it’s not what most people would think to do. He’s not going to come up to someone and say, “I love you” or “I want to cuddle.” It’s not in his nature. So as much as I wanted him to fit the plaster cast I had for him, when I let him be himself, it made the story flow and made him happier.

The next time you have a character who is acting out, being a pain, or just plain shouting, “Hey! Let me be myself!” I’d suggest letting him/her go. You never know... you just might love the outcome.

I know I did.


cheryl c said...

Interesting insight into the story behind the story!

robynl said...

I find that interesting: let him be himself; holds true in many aspects of life.

Wendi Zwaduk and Megan Slayer said...

Cade is an original and one of my favorites. He's a little crusty, a little grumpy, but he really does have a heart of gold. And yeah, the best advice I've found is to just be yourself and let everyone else be themselves.


Sherry Gloag said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm in the middle of one wip which just is not going rite at all. I think I'll go back and find out what the MCs really want.