When I am writing, sometimes I surprise myself. I don’t mean that my characters “refuse” to do what I tell them, or even that my characters “act up.” My characters are words that I set on a page, and they will darn well do as I command. The problem is that sometimes my subconscious takes over, and my characters end up doing things that it will take me the entire book to understand.
Thus, for instance, my novella “This Wicked Gift,” starts with my heroine’s ruminations on the hero. The first paragraph in my novella that talks about the hero is this: It was him. Mr. William Q. White—and what the “Q” stood for, she’d not had the foresight to demand on the day when he’d purchased his subscription. But the name rolled off the tongue. William Q. White. She could never think of him as simply a monosyllabic last name.
Now, I knew Mr. William White. I had already written a few scenes from his point of view by now. I had even introduced him in my full length novel, Proof by Seduction, where he takes a bit part. I had thought him out to the smallest degree, and I knew precisely what was going to happen to him. I just hadn’t sussed out my heroine.
And she and I shared an ignorance. Because, as well as I thought I knew William White by this point, I had no idea that he had a middle initial. William Q. White? Lavinia was not the only person who had no clue—no blinking idea—what the “Q” stood for. But she was right. “William Q. White” rolls much better off the tongue than just “William White.” So I kept it.
For pages and pages, Lavinia calls him “William Q. White.” I had no idea what the “Q” stood for. I wish I could say that I gnashed my terrible teeth and rent my clothing into sackcloth and ashes trying to figure it out. But I didn’t. The answer just came to me, in much the same way that Lavinia dropped the secret of William Q. White’s full name, and it worked.
And I was as surprised when I wrote it as I hope you will be when you read it.
For me, it’s those surprises—those little unexpected diversions that the subconscious delves into—that make writing so fun. They make me grin and smile and hug myself in joy. Some of them, readers have commented on. Others… well, nobody will ever notice.
For those of you who haven’t read my debut novella, “This Wicked Gift,” in THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS yet, guess what the “Q” stands for. I doubt you’ll get it, but I’ll give two really fun guesses a copy of my debut novella.