Friday, June 25, 2010

Today, My Horoscope said....

In the paper this morning, my Horoscope told me this: “Pick a small, simple idea, and take it from start to finish in a few hours. As you work, you’ll be reminded that you can juggle and finish many projects simultaneously.”

I like this bit of motivation, so I immediately began to think of a “small, simple idea” I could begin right now and finish in a few hours. Since I don’t have a “few hours” to work on a simple idea, I’ll narrow that down to one hour, two max. Today, I need to buy curtains, find a special top to go with my new black Capris that actually fit, and go out to lunch with my husband. (this is always his idea, because my idea of lunch is a cup of yogurt and three Ritz crackers with peanut butter.) He’s never understood what happened to the “three square meals” a day idea when he married me.

I digress. A small simple idea. Here it is: the reason some of my WIPs flop and I never finish those particular stories, is simple: I do not know my characters. If I know my characters, I can more easily imagine and create a setting, conflicts both internal and external, and of course, a solution to their over-riding problem.

For example, one WIP is titled Gentle Hearts. No, I don’t like that title either, and that’s one more thing wrong with this document-in-progress. The heroine is Miss Katherine Dewhurst, a unwed school teacher in the small town of Trinity Hill in 1880. I know this lady, because she is a secondary character in The Cameron Family Genealogical Chart which I created when I finished my Texas Trilogy centering on Jeffrey “Buck” Cameron, the woman he marries, and the two daughters they produce.

Kathryn rescues a stranger, a “dandy” from the East who is in a ditch, scraped up and bruised, his wire-frame glasses shattered and bent, and his law books scattered over the ground. So far, so good. The problem here is the gentleman from the East. Who is he? Why is he riding west and carrying law books? Yes, I gave him a name, but I changed his real profession and goals at least four times. Parts of the story move along, but when he enters center stage….blank. Blah. He has no history; therefore, I have failed to flesh him out until he seems like a real person to me. The story bogs down.

The Cameron Family Geneology Chart still has at least a dozen characters, waiting for me to pull him/her out. Since I know these people, I should easily write their story.

Another example is a secondary character that has been swirling around in my head for two years. I barely have one paragraph about her. She is Starr Hidalgo, daughter of the neighboring rancher next to the Romero Ranch, the setting for All My Hopes and Dreams. Starr almost upstaged Miss Cynthia Harrington, so I had to make her the bad girl, and redeem and enhance Cynthia.

But Starr Hidalgo still lives. I must write her story. But that is a WIP for another day.

In conclusion, my Simple Idea turned into: (1) this week’s blog, and (2) a new WIP.
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print


  1. Celia,
    I love simplicity. I live for it. And I do agree in that the projects that don't take off have to deal with the fact I don't the characters as well as I should.

    I've done some "preliminary" work to try to stave that off. My WIP now is "Victoria Scoundrel" a steampunk, but I must have done 3 weeks prelim work to flesh it out and get to know my characters. And I'm punking right along...

    I'd love to see you write that story about Starr. It would be fun to see you "redeem" her.


  2. Good thoughts for the day, Celia. Keep those ideas swirling around in your head and you'll come up with another of your wonderful stories. I like all your characters. They "live."

  3. I never read my horoscope in the morning. I'm always afraid it will influence my day. However, I love reading it at night to see how close my day was to it.

    Gentle Hearts -- I love the title, but maybe for your story it needs a contrast. The first thing that came to me was Gentle Hearts, Harsh Reality.

    I wish you luck in learning about your characters so you may finish their stories.

    I never know anything you're supposed to know about your characters until they reveal themselves while I write their lives.

  4. STEPH--well, you just keep punking along! And I wish you well with it. More than one reader mentioned Starr as a great character, but I did not like her when I wrote the story. As soon as it was released and time went by, I kept thinking about her. I almost have something formulated. Thank you, dear heart--you are a special person. Celia

  5. LINDA--THANK YOU! with your encouragement and faith in me, I keep going, knowing someone out there cheers for me. Celia

  6. BEKKI--thanks for you thoughts. You know, my early characters did as yours do--they reveal themselves as you write. Now, I seem to need to think I know the character before I can really get going with a plot. Good thoughts--Celia

  7. Celia,

    I love your writing style. I've just reached Chapter 7 of "Texas Blue" and can't get the characters out of my head. That means you knew them well. Great job!

    I had little trouble with "Journey To Forgiveness" where my characters were concerned. But that was because it was a story of my mother and dad. I used their personalites and first names as hero and heroine.

    You won't believe this! Since yesterday I've mulled over posting on "How important is it to know your characters before you write?"

    Great post, but it's strange we were thinking along the same lines. I agree with you. My biggest blockade is not knowing my characters. I've only recently discovered that. This should save me a lot of time.

    So...what's your sign?

  8. LAUREAN--I'm a Virgo--can't you tell? In my opinion, character building is all important in a novel. I've read some, and you have too, I bet, that when you finished you couldn't describe the hero or heroine. Job #1--your characters. Good luck with your blog, and let me know when you get it up. Celia

  9. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Great post, Celia, and I'm sure Starr's story will be just as easy to write!

  10. Celia, I'm a Virgo as well. I agree that knowing your characters is a must. I love the idea of Starr Hidalgo. Go for it!

  11. LIANA--thanks! Yes, I have an idea for Starr, but I need to do some research on railroads. Cclia

  12. CAROLINE--ahhh, a fellow Virgo. It's tough sometimes, isn't it?
    Thansk for visiting--Celia

  13. Hi Celia- Glad to know I am not the only one who reads and believes in horoscopes. As for my protagonists, I usually sketch their backgrounds, qualities and flaws before I start a story to keep their actions and thoughts within character. I am sure your next book will be as wonderful as the previous.

  14. Hi, Celia, I don't know my characters until I start writing their story. I have an occupation for them, a goal, but beyond that? Nada. I deepen their characterization as I write. I'm a pantser, not a plotter so it doesn't work for me to detail their lives before I begin the story. :) Everyone's different. What works for one writer, doesn't for another. :) Finding that happy medium is the key. :)

  15. MONA--thanks for the comment and compliment! It seems most authors write out some sort of character sketch, but I don't do that, because I'm a panster and really can't write much down until I write for a while. But I need to know their history, too. Where there grew up, their family, their place in the family...that's why this Cameron Family Geneology chart is so good. I know who they are and how they joined the family. Make sense? Probably only to me. Celia

  16. TERRY--see? I write exactly as you do, and even though I don't know their deeper personalities, I need to begin with their place in a family and a setting. Thanks for stopping by! Celia

  17. I had the same problem in Along Came Love, the Last of the Travers Brothers series. Now granted part of the problem there was this was the last book, and I so loved the fdamily, I did not want it to end.

    But even though I knew and understood Jake Travers, the woman in his life was vague. I struggled for two years before I came up with Samantha Courtland, a woman who blindly loved Jake as a child, and finally gave up, only to be thrown back into his life.

    This was a hard write. And part of it was the fact that I didn't want the four part series to end. I loved the characters and hated saying goodbye. But the other part was the girl, she just never seemed to fit.

    I had several ideas. Got one half done and decided I just didn't like her. I couldn't redeem her to the story. So I started again. Ove and over this went.

    I think sometimes that a series can delude you into thinking it will be easy because you know the history behind it, but sometimes it's the history itself that throws you off the character. This won't work or won't fit becuase...

    I finished Along Came Love and have it at Smashwords, but I know what you mean by struggling with character. Jake was hard to fit a woman to. He was so different from his brothers it was like a whole knew story. But I finally did it. I stuck with it to the end.

    Turned out to be rather an inspirational contemporary cowboy romance.

    So I understand your problem and it can rear it's ugly head every now and then and make you struggle. It's the sticking with it till it's done part that is hard. But it can be done.

    It will come...sometimes when you least expect it.

    Love and blessings

  18. RITA--isn't this odd? Some authors say they solve this problem by making character charts or writing our a complete description of her and her. I've tried others' suggestion, but for me, it boils down to knowing the character in some way that is difficult to explain. Have you ever known someone you sort of considered a friend, and you know where she lives, what her career is, about her children, etc., and yet you can say, "I really don't know her." I have, and once in a while a character does that to me. She or he won't allow me to become fully acquainted. Thanks for your comments--I enjoyed hearing about Along Came Love. Celia

  19. Very inspiring as always! You rock. And I like your idea of lunch. LOL Simple, fast and nutritious.

    Your new WIP with Starr as the heroine sounds wonderful. You did great accomplishing so much.

    Hey, Rita, I like the sound of your story, Along Came Love.

  20. Celia, I think Starr would make a great anti-heroine. ;-) Why not?

    Maybe as you're having lunch today, look around for some guy who could be your eastern lawyer and study him for hints. Tune into conversation if possible. Heck, just say you're a writer if he notices and you're creating a new character. Then hand him a card with your website. :-)

  21. DIANE--since I've been tlaking about Starr, now I'm dreaming about her. So....when I get these contest entries comes Starr! Celia

  22. LORAINE--that is a great idea! I love to people watch, but I've never considered any of them as a character. I'll pay more attention. And my cards--I give them to women in Wal-Mart and Half-Price books when I see them selecting romance books. No one has refused yet--a couple wanted to talk to me, which I did a little. I just say, "since you like romance books as I do, here's my card. You might want to take a looks at my romance books." I never feel comfortable doing it, though. Thanks--Celia