I wrote a story a while back about a couple going through the break-up of their marriage. I wanted dialogue to tell most of the tale rather than narrative.
As I write the characters into existence I felt as though I knew them and could almost feel what they were going through. It gave me the confidence to write strong dialogue because I just knew what they would be saying to each other.
I could feel what they were feeling; the hesitation in parting, the longing for each other and what they once had, the distance that had grown around them. This gave me the confidence to describe their internal world in ways that showed you, through their actions and body language, what was going on rather than telling you. It makes it more interesting to the reader to get to know your characters themselves. This is how we do it in real life; we all make judgements about people without being told about them by someone else.
Mud on their boots
And now I am writing something else. Something longer than the short stories I am used to writing but something that needs to be told. A story that started off in one direction and has since taken its own direction.
I have created characters and a story that I am beginning to feel responsible for. I feel responsible for filling in the gaps in their lives that I have left them with in an unfinished story. There are loose ends that will need tying up and aims that need fulfilling. There are people who will die and people who will suffer and I feel responsible for them all.
They are becoming real and starting to want to come out of my head. It is as if there is real mud on the boots of these people – and I put it there.
Researching background to the story
I’m having to find out historic facts to get a feel for the time and place at the beginning of the story and I have delved deeper than I thought I would need to. I wanted a feeling for what it was like to live in Hamburg in the 1940s and needed to know when events took place and in what order.
Researching the story is proving more painful than I thought – painful in an emotional sense. Some of the plot idea involves the Holocaust and it is difficult to read about what people went through, both in being uprooted and deported and then tortured and slaughtered in the concentration camps.
A lot of reading and research will probably condense into a few sentences that I would not have been able to write had I not done the research.