A woman growing up. Meet Simone Brody.
A man overcoming his prejudices. Meet Noah Harper.
A boy becoming a man. Meet Maxwell Darby.
Three characters—the first two are the heroine and hero of LAY ALL YOUR LOVE ON ME while Maxwell is a secondary character (but equally important). LAYLOM is about growing up and accepting who you are—becoming better because of your mistakes and what has happened in your life.
As my critique partners know, it was hard for me to write LAY ALL YOUR LOVE ON ME… especially at the beginning. I complained about how it was set in South Africa. I complained about my heroine and how she wasn’t telling me anything. I complained that LAYLOM was not as easy to write as TAKE A CHANCE ON ME (the first book I wrote). I complained. A lot. And perhaps too much for their sanity. Kisses to Maggie, Tiff, and Kris for putting up with my endless complaining. *g*
And then something miraculous happened. I realized why I wrote and why I wrote the things I wrote.
Scaling back on the Oprah a bit, let me explain. Last year I wrote TACOM—which was funny, light-hearted, and a classic screwball comedy—things that were not happening in my life. And I wrote characters who wanted be accepted for who they are.
All my novels, I’ve realized, are in some way, shape, or form about acceptance. And forgiveness. And love—above all, they’re about love. None of these things are easy to achieve or retain in life… especially for yourself. But when you write, things that are sometimes unattainable in real life are not in your books.
When I started writing LAYLOM back in late January/early February, I knew this novel was going to address people coming to terms with the past and coming into his/her own. Simone, the heroine, was difficult to write. She’s vulnerable, wounded… and keeps up a thick barrier. Noah was more fun but could be a bastard and kept people at a distance by giving them nicknames such as “darlin” and “kid.” And Maxwell… Maxwell’s just Maxwell—the awkward “kid” who becomes a man.
As a writer, you end up loving all your characters—in some way or form. They come from you and as Maggie put it a few weeks ago, your manuscript is your “baby.”
There’s nothing like developing characters and for those pantsers out there... setting your characters free to see what they will do. It’s much like a newborn baby taking his/her first tentative steps, you aren’t sure if they will fall over or make it to that couch so close yet so far away. Even if you’re a plotser, your characters can taken you in unforeseen directions.
Let them. Don’t follow the script. Let your characters come into their own. Let them take you on the journey that we writers are continuously surprised by. Let them tell their story… when they do, you’ll have a manuscript that surprises even you.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” –-Confucius