Hello, Magical Musings! Thank you for having me here today. Special thanks to my buddy Misty Evans for inviting me. I’m here in promotion mode to talk about my romantic suspense, THE PAST CAME HUNTING, which released from Bell Bridge Books http://www.bellebooks.com/ on September 19th.
How many of you have heard the stellar advice that if you want your reader to care about your protagonist, you have to make him or her suffer? That was something I heard early on in my career and it resonated with me. Truly. On an emotional level.
However, when it comes to making my protags suffer physically, I’m what you call a wimp. I get pretty darn close to these characters. I also know that if I went through what I put them through, well, heck, that’s gonna hurt!
Take my female protagonist Melanie, for example. At seventeen, her mom died and her father rejected her. Young and impulsive, she took to the streets, and later to hitchhiking. I had no problem yanking at those emotional heartstrings. It’s when the scene called for her to get away from a perverted truck driver, and the only thing she could do (and I could think of) was for her to jump from a moving semi. Pretty darn cruel of me, and if it’s any consolation, I cringed the entire way with her.
Later in the story, she’s in the clutches of the bad guy. She’s all tied up, literally, if you catch my drift. She’s in a basement; she’s seen that there’s a phone in the kitchen, and along with the phone, a back exit. Being that she’s not a passive kind of gal, even tied up as it were, her goal becomes to get up the flight of stairs that leads to her freedom and back to her son.
I got really hung up on that scene because, one, I had to make it believable, and two, the basement floor in the story is cement. (Back to that fear of pain thing again.) I needed her to get up 12 wooden stairs, bound tighter than a mummy without falling and breaking her neck on the hard foundation below. See the problem here?
One day while I was leaning back in my chair, arms crossed, frowning at the monitor, my college-aged daughter came in and said, “What’s wrong? You look like you’re in pain?” (How observant of her, huh?) I explained that Melanie was in trouble (Audra is sensitive like her mom) and we went into problem-solving mode. We trudged down to our real basement, and at my daughter’s insistence, and my “Are you crazy? We can’t possibly do this” pleading, we recreated that scene. My daughter who is athletic beyond belief proved that Melanie, with her hands tied behind her back and her ankles bound, could make it up a flight of stairs, hopping.
Still, I was worried about that darn cement floor in my fictitious basement and my aversion to pain thing again. I also didn’t think that Melanie was as athletic as my All League softball/basketball playing daughter. There was nothing in Mel’s past to suggest such a thing. So I thought and thought, and finally came up with an ideal solution. I also slapped my palm against my forehead for risking my kid — even though our basement is carpeted and I was behind her all the way!
This time, I was the one tied up and I rolled over my basement floor to the stairs, then in a sitting position, I was able to move from step to step up my stairs without breaking a bone. The trouble came when I reached the top of the stairway, and then in the dark, with my hands bound, I had to turn the doorknob without falling head first. Talk about scary….
All right. I admit I didn’t reenact the jumping from the semi scene. (And, for the record, I am infinitely grateful that none of my neighbors owns a semi.) But I think you’ll see that I do my utmost to stage a scene. What’s more, I’m a very nice author and don’t intentionally hurt my characters if I can help it.
So now it’s your turn. Are you a wimp like me, and do you have problems torturing your characters physically? Have you ever staged a scene? We’ll make this a contest. I’ll ask the Magical Musings gang to vote and pick the winner. Whoever they feel posts the most creative staging scene will win THE PAST CAME HUNTING, and a box of Band-aids with my compliments!
Happy staging and writing!
Along with avoiding pain at all costs, Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and a debut author. Check out her web page at www.donnellannbell.com .