I’d like to share with you another reason why I couldn’t seem to complete a story until I was 82: I had a major stumbling block.
The block revolved around the main hero Danny Jones in my first book Twist of Fate (soon to be published!).
When I was about thirteen I had a movie idol; his name was Gene Reynolds. He always played a certain kind of young, wandering tough guy that became my image of Danny. The trouble was I couldn’t get him down on paper. I needed him to be uneducated, but at the same time sure of himself, tough on the outside and tender underneath. I discovered early in my story imaginations that centered on him as the main character that it is a lot easier watching someone on the movie screen than putting him down on paper.
My dilemma was: how could he really appeal to a society girl when he had no education, no money and (in my character’s part) no home? How could he have nothing yet avoid breaking the law? Why wasn’t he constantly in trouble with the authorities? How could he be smart but never attend school? In the case of Twist of Fate, he also needed to have the capability to finish school in a hurry despite not having attended public school since he was young. He had to have a means to learn to read and then access to someone who could teach him.
There seemed to be a million questions about Danny that I couldn’t answer to my own satisfaction when I tried to put him down on paper. Every time I tried, I couldn’t find the answers to my questions.
As I’ve said, when I was 82, I made up my mind that if I was ever going to write, I had better get busy. But once I did, somehow the answers came to all my questions about Danny in the form of the character Gus, with whom I eventually fell deeply in love. Strangely, this gentle man who taught Danny to survive just came to me. Once I sat down and starting to write about Danny and his thoughts, the character of Gus came into the picture. It was a strange birth for an old man, but one of the characters that I believe is strongest in the book, even though he’s not in most of the plot.
When I finished the book, I kept Danny in my next three books playing small parts in my Sam Osborne mysteries while new characters were being born. Now, I am working on a book of Holiday Short Stories, my first attempt at writing shorter pieces, and I’m learning how very much fun creating those characters can be. Once you get past a stumbling block, the process of creation begins to flow naturally.