Thursday, June 6, 2013

Adventures of the Imagination

The last few days have been quite the adventure for me, but not in the way you would think. I'm still living and working in Morgantown, I've not done anything especially exciting or adventurous, I don't have any more money now than I did last week [in fact I have less], and tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today. But not all adventures are things you can see or that are apparent to the outside world.
In the world of a writer, most of your adventures happen inside your head.
Don't get anxious, I'm not crazy. I just have a really overactive imagination. And when I get fixed on something, it takes over.
I have no idea how other writers work in their craft. I'm fairly certain we're all different in our methods and madness. For me, it gets pretty intense and I have to watch out or I get carried away on extraneous stuff and lose the story itself. In this case, however, I just call it research.
I have a story. It's completely different from anything else I have ever written, which is probably why I'm so fond/proud of it. All along I thought it was a 3 book series, of which I have completed the first, began and laid out the second, and plotted the third. I had a general idea of what people looked like and how they acted, but nothing specific. I had a general idea of what the outfits and locations looked like, but nothing specific. And I don't need specifics. Not really. That's what imagination is for, right?
Anyway, I've had this all ready for over a year. The first book was finished in the middle of last fall and it just sat there. I had my two advanced readers look at it and they loved it. But then, they tend to love everything I've written. I got some advice and suggestions, which I took and adjusted, but being in grad school sucks time out of your life and so it just sat there. Eventually, I asked two others to read it, and got positive responses from it. But I still didn't have time or energy to let myself get back into it.
Then school got out.
And the fun began.
I am one of those people who writes to music. I can listen to a song and put a scene to it. Within reason.  So I usually line up a playlist of the sorts of music I think works with the material I'll be working on. If a particular song works exceptionally well [ie. is perfect for what I am writing at the moment or distracts me enough to put a new scene in my head], it goes on what I call the "official playlist", meaning it will be used later or when I put together my actual soundtrack when all is said and done. Yes, I do official soundtracks. It makes me happy.
So I was working out the other day listening to my unofficial playlist and ideas just kept coming. And suddenly I realized that three books wouldn't be enough with all I wanted to do, so it became four books. And possibilities expanded. Battle scenes, emotional scenes, new characters, characters I'd forgotten, tragic deaths, spontaneous hilarity.... It was overwhelming.
So I decided to step back and get some specifics. I generally try to have what I call my "dream cast", meaning if I were one of the lucky few who got to have her work immortalized on the big screen, who would play my characters. Obviously, it's not a perfect system, but it helps me to be able to picture how the features I've described my characters as having or possessing work on real people. And having real people to go off of makes planning out actions and emotions and nuances easier. For me, at least. So I set about finding my main guy. That came pretty easily. I know you don't know the story, but if you are nice, I'll give you a teaser later. Anyway, the main guy to know in this story is Nash. He is quiet, strong, loyal, and carries a dark past. He is also observant, kind, and just the slightest bit insecure about himself, but he knows in his heart that he is a soldier. So, for him, I chose Max Irons.

He might be too pretty, but we'll see.
I knew who I wanted for a couple of additional characters, and I won't spoil it for you, but the hardest one by far was my main character, Liv. Liv is tough, hardened by life and circumstances. She will do anything to save her family and does not care about anything beyond that. Until her own past is brought up and she finds out she's a part of a much bigger world and plan than she could ever have imagined. The adventure in the book is hers, as are most of the drama and emotions. I had absolutely no idea who I wanted to play her. I couldn't think of a single actress that had everything I wanted or saw in Liv. That could have been just me being picky and protective of my character. I spent ages on IMDB looking at pictures and profiles and movies. I tried lots of actresses, but some looked too young, too old, too pretty, too girly, etc. No one was perfect. So I moved on to other characters and got just about the entire series cast.
Then I accidentally clicked on "birthdays" and scrolled along to see who had a birthday that day. An actress I had never heard of piqued my interest and I looked at her. She was blonde, which meant I had to think if she could work as a brunette. Then I found a picture of her as a brunette. And the search ended.
Meet Sophie Lowe, my inspiration for Liv:

I won't tell you how excited it made me. You wouldn't understand. But having faces to go with my names makes this real. I know I'll never make it to movies, and it's highly unlikely I'll even get published, but I'm a writer. I write. I don't do it to make money or to become famous. I do it because I love it and I have stories to tell. And now my characters are more real than before. And more adventures can take place.