Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have Your Characters Ever Gone Missing?

The main character in the new series I'm writing has gone AWOL and I think I know why: she's not getting enough attention.

Her name is Maxine Leverman and she's a moody creature, even a bit of a diva. She first made herself known in AVENGERS OF BLOOD, book two of the Cass Elliot series, and hasn't shut up since. She's caused such a ruckus that I shelved plans for the third Cass Elliot novel and started working on a new series featuring Maxine. Why would someone who loves center stage disappear? I think she's in a huff because she's not front and center, so she's pouting in silence. (Not very mature, granted, but that's part of her beauty - and it gives her great room to grow.)

Life is exhausting at the moment, due to the family-type stuff we all go through, and to tax season. ("It's just math," someone said recently. I shuddered. It is math, but not as we know it, Jim. It's a soul-sucking blend of addition, subtraction, and the occasional venture into astrophysics when calculating deductions. But I digress...) Suffice to say that my time to write and my emotional capacity to even ponder this current book is limited.

And so Maxine has wandered off.

I was a little freaked out when I couldn't find my main character and ran around like a frantic parent, scouring my consciousness for any sign of her, but she wouldn't appear. Then I tried ignoring her, glancing sideways when I thought she might not be looking, but no luck there, either. I've also tried thinking about her as I fall asleep, hoping to lure her out of my subconscious, but she's not having any part of my dreams.

This current book is about Maxine's foray into the world of private detectivedom. Without her, does the story still exist? Probably not. But thankfully, there's been a surprising benefit while she's been gone: when I do have time to write or ponder, the other characters are demanding to be heard. They're spilling all kinds of good gossip about the main character and her history, and they're adding morsels about their own pasts. This story is gaining depth from unexpected angles, which is great news.


Although I'm not as frantic as I was when she first went missing, there is that nagging worry that she won't come back at all, and this book will be kaput. I hope that with a little love and attention after tax season - and maybe a new pair of Jimmy Choos (Maxine'll do almost anything for expensive shoes) - she'll decide it's worthwhile to stalk back onto the page and take the limelight again. But only time will tell.

What do you do when your characters go silent, if they do? How do you find them? Do they eventually come back and grace you with their presence, or are they gone for good?

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