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Facing the blank canvas

blank piece of paper on a table with pens and coffee mug
© creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The ability to write anything is scary.

I liken it to being given a blank canvas and told to “Paint something.” It’s paralyzing. But if the same person gave you the canvas and said, “Paint a tree,” you’d probably think for a minute about what a tree looks like to you, and then dive in.

In that way, parameters can actually free up your creativity rather than stifling it.

Once I know how my story starts, then I know which path I’m on. I might take some unexpected detours along the way, but I’m not switching mountains halfway through. (Unless, maybe, killer plot twist?)

I’m trying to work on the next book in my Men of Steele series, and this is where I remember how messed up my process is. No matter which method I use, I end up starting the story about 50 different ways before I figure out how to get into it.

I do have a few constraints to help me out. I know I’m writing romantic suspense, and that it takes place within the world of my Men of Steele series. And I know who the hero is.

But if a character can be stubborn, Kurt Steele is the worst. I’m not one of those writers who believes my characters have control, but once they form in my mind, that’s pretty much what I’m stuck with. (See Scott Kramer of Blindsided, who came to me as a Marine scout sniper, even though I’d been researching and writing Air Force PJ heroes.)

I’ve tried to write Kurt’s book several times now, and he doesn’t cooperate. At all. This time, I’m determined to write him a happily ever after, but I may turn gray doing it.

Wish me luck!

If you’re a writer, have you ever struggled with a particular character’s story? Got any suggestions?

The friends in my head

faces of eight men and women

When I started writing Blind Fury in early 2010, I didn’t realize how long the characters I created—both main and secondary—would be part of my daily consciousness. Sure, it took me four years to craft, revise, and finally publish the book, but it’s more than that.

Blind Fury spawned a series, so long before Jenna and Mick found their happy ever after, the secondary characters were swimming through my mind, looking for their own love match, stumbling into their own dark alleys. I’ve been brainstorming and plotting (as much as a mostly-pantser can) and scheming for Dan and Scott and Tara and Kurt and Caitlyn and Jason and Todd for years now.

I need to write faster—look for two more Men of Steele books in 2017, including Blindsided in February!—so I can get to all of their books (some of them overlapping 😉 ). I’ve come to know my characters better with every book, and I’m impatient to tell each of their stories.

(And even those whose stories have been told like to say hello now and then.)

Beyond the current series, I want to write about the other characters in other worlds who are calling to me, for whom I’ve also been pondering and dabbling with scenes for years. (Have I mentioned that I need to write faster?)

This is both the joy and frustration of being a writer. So many ideas/characters, and not enough time to write them all. Luckily, that means I have years of material ahead of me. But the really good news is that I love my characters. They’re partly the best and worst of me, and partly pure fiction, and I enjoy having them around.

When I started writing, I didn’t realize I was building long-term relationships with the growing list of friends in my head, but I’m not complaining.