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It's My Novel!
by Tina Morgan

Have you ever been writing a story only to have a minor character try to take over?

Okay, so they aren't real and they can't really do that, but some times it seems like they have a mind of their own.

I'm not an obsessive person, I swear I'm not. So when I could not refocus my attention on my main character and one of my minor characters, Captain Danaar, threatened to take over my novel, I was surprised/shocked/puzzled/perplexed? (I just didn't get it.)

He grew out of necessity. One third of the way through my novel, I realized I had used the same character for two different roles, right down to the same name. How could I do something so stupid you ask? I admit it wasn't my brightest move, but they were very small parts. It wasn't until I started writing about the second role that I realized Captain Novan could not be two places at once.

The obvious solution would have been to rename the second role and continue on with the story. It was too obvious, too coincidental. I had to invent someone new. At the time, I thought the only problem with my story was the duplicate character. I had to create someone new, but I had no idea what type of character to put in that position. I didn't want to be redundant, but it was such a small part, I didn't want to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

I'm blaming what happened next on my husband. It was his idea to see 'that' movie. I didn't want to watch it. I don't like horror, but I watched the movie with my husband. It ended up being an okay movie. I must confess, I wasn't paying a great deal of attention to the plot or the main character. There was an actor in the film whom I had not seen before and he captured my attention. What can I say? I have a weakness for tall, dark and intense men.

Inspiration struck, I needed a similar character for my novel. Thus Captain Danaar was born. (It's no coincidence that he looks exactly like this actor - the visual prompt gave me precisely the right cue.) The captain started taking over immediately. He's firmly entrenched himself in the first, second, third and possibly (okay! I surrender!) the fourth novel of my epic-fantasy series.

At first I thought I'd lost my mind. This character was supposed to walk in and out of a couple of scenes and then fade completely into the background. Instead, he stepped in and wouldn't leave or even back down. I finally decided it was all right to allow 'eye candy' to be my inspiration. Quite honestly the novel needed a kick in the pants. The solution I had originally written to the hero's problems seemed a little too easy. With the addition of Captain Danaar, the answers were no longer so straight forward.

No, Captain Danaar is not a real person. Though I have found that if I think of my characters as 'real', three dimensional people, they figuratively jump off the page. Sometimes they even become anarchists fighting for control.

A famous fantasy author said your muse is really your subconscious mind. So subconsciously I must have realized my story was lacking a necessary level of tension. I could not admit that flaw to myself. It took watching a movie I didn't want to watch and seeing an unknown actor to make me understand that. Captain Danaar is not a knock-off of the character in the movie. (I think he has much more depth. Maybe it's vanity on my part but I hope he does.)

The point to this ramble? When inspiration strikes, write it down. It doesn't matter if it comes from a song, a leaf blowing in the breeze, the sound of a child's laughter or yes, even a sexy man on the silver screen. Keep a notebook with you as much as possible and write down the things that strike you as interesting. Some times even something as basic as sex can inspire a character or plot line that vastly improves your story/novel. Don't look a gift muse in the mouth! Take the inspiration and run with it.

Copyright 2001 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved


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