Thursday, April 24, 2014

Talk Amongst Yourselves: Conversations with the Characters in My Head ... by Yvonne Montgomery

Every once in a while, if I’m very good and eat all of my vegetables and pay my bills on time, the characters in my book(s) will talk to each other and I am able to transcribe what they say. Suddenly I’ll be typing madly, trying to get every word down as they tap into solid deposits of information that previously floated about like clouds in the echoing storage chambers of my brain. It’s such a change from the ordinary haul across minefields of plot development and character descriptions that I get giddy and excited.

There’s never a way to know when these halcyon days will happen. I proceed through my Writer’s Ritual of Words With Friends (I’m nearing twenty games, which have to be played as fast as possible, but I’m afraid to prune them thanks to the oft-repeated dictum to never mess with the streak). I set my ice water and coffee just so, careful to avoid elbow distance. (Don’t mess with the keyboard.) I turn on tranquility music, usually the one with storm sounds and hypnotizing drums. I read the pages I wrote the previous day and edit them, keeping any cursing under my breath. If I’ve left the last sentence teetering at the edge of a suspenseful turn, it’s easier to crank up the old writing machine, but often it’s just more trudging amongst the words scattered across the landscape, hoping something fun will present itself. Over the years I’ve initiated writing sessions with short meditations to tune the instrument, but I’m in a hurry to finish A Signal Shown, Book 2 of the Wisdom Court novels. It’s hard to be patient with the slow countdown.

Lately, perhaps because I am Almost Done, I’ll read a few lines and hear Max (a paranormal investigator), for example, talking to Rose, Wisdom Court director, about the cold spots in the second-story hallway. Max wants to know about specific times and the emotional atmosphere when people began exhaling vapor as they talked, to say nothing of how the women at the institute reacted to the loud disruptive sounds from the locked room down the hall, and, on a scale of one to ten, how creeped out the associates were as the lights went out during the previously mentioned loud disruptive sounds. Kerry chimes in with what she’s observed and Noreen replies.

An entire conversation is happening and it’s coming from my fingers on the keyboard. Of course my brain is involved—hello, movement caused by directions from said brain—but I’m not puzzling over who should say what when. I’m just taking it all down.

It’s so cool and I love it. And unless I’m kidding myself, it’s different from those times when the writing gods touch one’s forehead, filling one with inspiration accompanied by a background of chirping birds and harp music. The few times I’ve experienced those fevers, what I wrote during them was utter crap.

No, I’m not kidding myself. These are good, informative conversations wherein some of the disturbing events at Wisdom Court are examined and explained. And taking dictation is like a mini-vacation from the real and earnest job of telling the story just right.

Sometimes it’s supposed to be fun.


Yvonne Montgomery is the author of two Denver Capitol Hill mysteries, Scavenger Hunt and Obstacle Course, both available in e-book format at, Nook, and most other venues. Books 1 and 2 of the Wisdom Court novels, Edge of the Shadow and A Signal Shown, will be available as e-books very soon. (Yvonne swears it!)

Learn more about Yvonne and her books at her website and blog, Writer in the Garret. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Yvonne.

Yvonne - Thanks for sharing the way you tune in to your characters. I think that's part of really writing a solid, engaging story - listening to what the characters say.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Patricia, thanks for hosting and introducing Yvonne to us.
Yvonne, nice to know how you connect with your characters. Listening to the characters is a great way of making them jump out of the pages for the readers.

Yvonne Montgomery said...

Good morning, Margot and Rachna. Thanks so much for commenting on my post. I enjoy sharing fun parts of the writing process. And I'm happy to report that my characters are still chattering away!

Crystal Collier said...

Love it! It's definitely supposed to be fun sometimes. I find often those voices are like an unborn baby--they become most active in the middle of the night. You might think I was expecting all the time for the dark circles under the eyes. Love you too, characters. ;)

True Heroes from A to Z

Yvonne Montgomery said...

Hi, Crystal. The baby analogy is a good one. When I'm well into writing a novel, I've found myself dreaming about a baby, taking care of it, sometimes irritated by it. Symbolically, of course, the book is the baby and I'm not always the best mother. Among my favorite things about writing are the subconscious connections during the process.

susan e. schwartz, ph.d., Jungian analyst said...

Interesting what happens as we honor what happens in our head...
Garden of Eden Blog

Yvonne Montgomery said...

How true, Susan. I've always been surprised and fascinated by what writing stirs up in my mind.
Thanks so much for your comment.

D Biswas said...

"An entire conversation is happening and it’s coming from my fingers on the keyboard. Of course my brain is involved—hello, movement caused by directions from said brain—but I’m not puzzling over who should say what when. I’m just taking it all down."

Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Yvonne Montgomery said...

D Biswas, I checked out your blog. Exactly.
Thanks for stopping by.