This past week I’ve been procrastinating -yes, again. I know I am in a constant state of procrastination, but while I have been procrastinating I’ve been thinking about the editing I need to do already in my current WIP, Lonely Hearts. I’m only half way through the first chapter, as I’ve been doing a lot of planning and research and already I am seeing that I’m going to have to make quite a number of changes. I need to get into my character’s head and think about how she thinks, feels and reacts to different situations – I need to put myself in her shoes, Rose’s gorgeous 1930s style shoes!
Lonely Hearts begins with Rose waking in the morning after a terrible nightmare. I had to consider carefully how I would feel if I were in Rose’s shoes, how I would react and what I would be thinking. I guess it goes without saying, (but I’ll say it anyway) that in order to create convincing characters that your readers are able to relate to, you must consider all aspects of the character; their appearance, likes, dislikes, thoughts, feelings, history and so on. Then comes the challenging part- deciding the aspects which would add to the story and make in more interesting and which aspects are for the writer’s benefit only, in order to walk in your character’s shoes.
So at this point I am trying to put myself in my character’s shoes, to think what they are thinking and feel what they are feeling. This is mostly for my benefit so I am able to get myself in the right frame of mind to tell their story. I can’t expect to tell Rose’s story, from Rose’s point of view if I am unable to understand where she has come from and the experiences that have shaped her into the person that she is. So whilst it may not be crucial to the story to retell her entire history, it is important to me- as the writer, in order to do the story justice, in order to tell it convincingly.
So as I go to explore my character even further, I leave you with a small excerpt that I have edited for the first chapter of Lonely Hearts. I’m sure it will be changed several more times before I’m finished with it, but this is what it is at this point.
Sydney, Australia February, 1935
The warmth of the morning summer sun shone through my small window, washing away the darkness of my nightmare that was still clinging to me. Why do things always seem better in the light of day? There’s something about the magic of the sun that keeps they darkness at bay.
“Édesem, are you up yet? We have a very busy day today and you need to have time to eat.” I smile at the familiar accented voice of Jószef, the man who is the closest thing I have ever had to a father, he’s always worrying that I don’t eat enough. I hear him calling out again, “One of these days édesem, you are going to vanish, please come and eat.” I know he worries about me constantly, a little too much actually but the truth is I’ve never really been one to eat a lot, I wonder idly why this is, perhaps it has something to do with my childhood.
I stretch my limbs and climb out of bed heading over to the small wooden dresser to wash my face and get myself ready for the day ahead. I sense that Jószef is a little anxious today, I know he’s been struggling financially for a while, just like everyone else, but if everything goes well today then Jószef will be in business with Mr Thomas Heath –THE Thomas Heath. I try to steer clear of idle gossip, but if all accounts are true, then Mr. Heath is a ridiculously wealthy entrepreneur, who is currently investing in viable businesses that will aide in Australia’s recovery from the stock market crash some years back. I sincerely hope he considers Jószef’s business to be viable as he has so many wonderful ideas including creating a line of ready-to-wear clothing that every family can afford.
I make myself look as presentable as I can, dressing in my best dress – a jade green wrap dress with short puffed sleeves and my black t-strap heeled shoes. Even though we are nearing the end of the Australian summer, February always seems to be the hottest, so I part my long honey blonde hair to the side and twist it up securing it with my favourite hair comb. As I take one last look in the dresser mirror to make sure I am presentable, the freckles that are scattered over my nose and cheeks catch my eye making me think of my mother.
Yes, I have freckles, something which was always used as ammunition by those boys who constantly were making my life unbearable. I remember the day I cried to my mother, begging her to find some way to cover them up or better still, to rid me of them forever. She told me not to be daft, that freckles were something very special, “God’s Kisses” she had called them. She said they were there to remind me that no matter how bad things seemed, God would always be there for me and love me unconditionally -just as she did. She died three days later… I was fourteen. The memory is bitter-sweet, but the memory of my mother’s unconditional love is enough to make me smile and banish away the final strands of darkness from my nightmare.
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