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A coming of Age Story from The Camerons of Tide's Way, available for free on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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Blogging By the Sea
Friday, March 17 2017

March Round Robin topic is: Are you ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are your characters to you?

As a reader, I remember one scene, actually a chapter, that I was listening to on audio in the car on my way to a meeting. It was an action/adventure thriller – a genre filled with angst and tension. When I got to my destination, I turned off the car and headed into the building with this intense feeling that I was late and needed to hurry. But when I got there, I was actually early. At first having no idea why I was feeling this intense need to get there. Only as the adrenalin rush wore off, did I realize I’d been so drawn into the immediacy of the story that I was feeling all the same anxious pressure the characters were feeling in a life or death situation. All I could think was WOW!  That was great writing.

As an author, I can only hope I can bring my readers to that kind of a precipice when they’re reading my books. I don’t write Action/Adventure, though, so my scenes aren’t going to leave my readers coming down from an adrenalin rush. As a pantser, I tend to write character driven stories, and since most of them are romance, there have been scenes that leave me drained emotionally. Some romance scenes: falling in love, making love, happy ever afters etc aren’t usually emotionally draining so much as leaving an emotional high. Either you have a wonderful world view that grows out of a satisfying romantic connection or you’re hunting for your mate and hoping you can get them as aroused as you are. But the scenes in romance that tend to leave me drained are the “Black Moments.” That crisis moment in the story when everything seems lost and your characters, and you, the author are going to get your heart broken.

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In the most recent release in my Cameron’s of Tide’s Way series, my hero finds out something he feels the heroine should have told him herself, years ago, and he’s hurt and disappointed. What he started out as a conversation to find out what happened and why she hadn’t told him turns into an angry scene as his anger overcomes the hurt and any chance the heroine has to make her case. When she finally storms off, it seems like all is lost. When I finished writing that scene, I was emotionally drained and just as hurt as my hero, AND just as crushed as my heroine. I had to collect my dog and go for a walk on the beach while my emotions ebbed and the physical reactions calmed. I was surprised at the time because I hadn’t felt that bad when they said good bye all those years ago, even knowing what was going to happen to them. So, YES, there are scenes that leave me totally, emotionally drained.

My characters are very real to me. My stories are character driven so I spend a lot of time before the book even starts creating my characters, writing their backstory, learning who they are, what they like and what they hate, their favorite music and hobbies, their strengths and their faults. I know that motivates them and I know the dark things they try to hide from the world. I know what makes them vulnerable. SO, when the story finally gets underway, most of the time I never have to ask what they’d do next because I already know how they are going to react. But sometimes they surprise me. I created them and yet suddenly I find myself typing something about them I had no idea of before. Sometimes I have a plan for their story arc, and they plant their feet and defy me. They have other plans. I usually go with the flow and let them have their way. Other times I let them have their say and then we return to the plot I had in mind.

My characters are so real, I find myself sharing what’s happening to them with others, mostly other writers, but occasionally a friend or family member or even a reader. I talk about them as if they were real and the problems they are facing are real. Just like I would talk about something that happened to me, or to someone I know. My writer friends understand. My other acquaintances look at me as if I’m losing it.

But the time I know without a doubt that my characters have become real to me is when I write The End. Even on the first draft when I still have lots of editing and revising to do. I have this lost feeling like my best friend just up and moved to the other side of the country. I might email them or call them from time to time, but it will never be the same as it was while I was writing their story and they were living in my head. I know the story now, I know how it ends and they are leaving me. I miss them terribly until I begin the next book and find new friends to invest so much emotional capital in. I have a new sweatshirt that boasts in large letters across the chest: I am an author. That means I am creative, cool, passionate . . . and a little crazy. And maybe having people I’ve made up out of thin air become that real to me is a little crazy, but if it is, then I’m perfectly happy with crazy.

Want to know what other authors think?
Victoria Chatham 

Marci Baun  

Margaret Fieland

Judith Copek 
A.J. Maguire  
Connie Vines 
Rachael Kosinski 
Dr. Bob Rich   
Heather Haven 
Beverley Bateman
Kay Sisk 
Diane Bator 
Helena Fairfax  
Rhobin Courtright 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 09:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  10 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 14 2017

I belong to a large and beautiful Catholic church, but during Lent I am always drawn to participating in the Way of the Cross services at a tiny little church a half hour west of me. They hold it in the garden beside the church (weather permitting which it nearly always does) at noon. People of all ages take part, right down to toddlers more interested in exploring and school age children who take turns saying the prayers. Instead of rushing from one station to another mumbling the words so fast one can’t really even follow them, never mind contemplate the meaning, the pace is slow with time and space to think and reflect. As I was leaving the lovely service this past Friday, I got to remembering the most vividly intense Way of the Cross I ever joined.

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I’d been in Tonga for more than a year and had experienced the spiritual depth of prayer both in and out of the church. But the Way of the Cross was special. Dressed in mourning clothes, which is black garb and traditional woven mats wrapped about the waist, I headed downtown to St Joseph’s Cathedral in Neiafu. There the procession winds from the church steps, around the streets of the small town, stopping fourteen times to offer prayer. A young man dressed as Christ carries a very large and heavy cross and it is obvious early on that the work is hard. He is sweating and his steps grow more weary after each stop, until we finally return to the steps of the church where he is tied to that cross and the cross lifted up. There were no nails, of course, but a tiny chock beneath his heels. As the prayers went on, his limbs began to tremble and his face was contorted with the effort to remain where he was. Looking at that young, earnest face, it was so easy to picture Christ upon his cross, trembling with fatigue, thirsting and finally calling out for his Father do to His will. For the rest of my life, that young face will color my interpretation of the Way of the Cross, and encourage me when I balk at carrying my own cross.

              

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
    skye@skye-writer.com

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