I spent a good chunk of the holiday weekend writing, working on finishing up the draft of When She Cries. Which is why my first Tuesday non-fiction post is late. The serial draft will run several more weeks yet, but the whole thing is now in the hands of my editor, who I’m relieved to say really liked the ending.
I wasn’t sure she would. And I’m not sure you will either, but I do think it’s exactly what it needs to be.
I’ll be careful about how much I say here to avoid spoilers, but as usual, I didn’t start out with a very strong sense of who Nicole was. I never have that with any of my characters – when I start writing, I generally just pluck a couple people out of thin air, give them names and I don’t even know exactly what kind of crap I’ll throw at them at that point. I’ll just start watching them as they interact with the situation I’ve put them in, listen to them talk, see how they look and what they’re wearing, and let that guide who they become.
Yes, technically it’s my subconscious doing the work, not the actual characters, so it’s still “me”, but it feels more like I’m watching a movie or play, letting the characters lead me instead of the other way around.
The Nicole we start out getting to know in this story isn’t anything like the Nicole she becomes…and that’s a good thing. I think she’s probably the most dynamic character I’ve written yet, though I’ve tried several times before. Her situation made it an absolute necessity for her to change though, in ways neither of us could ever have predicted. She’s fascinating to me, which probably sounds like hubris on my part, but truly, I don’t feel like she’s my “creation” or like I had anything to do with her personality arc. That’s not really the way it works.
I named her Nicole for a specific reason that has nothing to do with any sort of actual meaning of the name, and more to do with the people I’ve known, seen, or otherwise met even for a very brief time with that name. We all form certain stereotypes of people based at least partially on names, and I had a certain specific sort of person (though no one in particular) in mind when I named her that.
In some ways, she embodied that stereotype I hold, and in others, not so much. She developed into her own person in the first half of the story, and then someone entirely different, shaped by the circumstances she’s forced to endure.
As we all are.
A lot of the people I write about are…not good people. They’re scary in the worst way possible (IMO), which is psychologically. What I’m most interested in is how they got that way. What went wrong to set them on the path that they’re now traveling? And how do they live with those choices day in and day out?
Fascinating, I think.