Sick Head Thoughts on Characters and Cats

I wanted to write about characters on their literary journeys today, but I’m sick and all I can think about is my overriding desire to breathe.

Last night I did have some interesting dreams about finding body parts in my soup, which led me to wake up in a panic, which led me to wonder where my cat was, which led me to seek him out and pet him, which led to my cat allergy triggering my asthma and making my sick nose run even more and my sick lungs ache even more and my sick feeling suck even more.

Things happen. People get sick, they go to work anyway and make themselves even more sick. They dream weird dreams that lead them to do things that have negative effects.

Things happen, people mess up and then they have to live with the consequences—or fight their ways out.

The same with characters.

Her sister gets married and a teenage girl decides to give up being a slut and try to settle down. She wants her parents to actually not yell at her for once, so she goes out with a boy they like. Only, he beats her. Now she has to decide how much she’s willing to put up with, and for how long, just so that she can keep her parents something like happy with her.

This is essentially the beginning of my WIP. I’m sure you could write something similar about your own WIP, or about any story really.

Boy’s life sucks. Boy finds out he’s a wizard (yay!). Boy finds out most evil wizard wants him dead and to rule the world (maybe not in that order). Boy decides to bluster on with whatever he wants to do anyway, come hell or trolls or three-headed dogs or even high water (in a sequel). Boy ends up having to face/fight most evil and very nearly most powerful wizard EVERY YEAR. He just can’t stop putting himself, and his friends, in harm’s way.

Harry is a great character, because he does what a character is supposed to do. He makes bad choices for good reasons and has to continuously face the consequences. In the very way that he blusters along, he creates the plot to his saga by the very fact of his imperfect choices.

Just remember, life is consequences and plot is life without the bathroom breaks (bo-ring!). Make sure to give your characters choices that lead to strong consequences, and you’ll breathe life into your novel.

Now if only I could get one good breath.


PS I know I didn’t talk about character names today. There were no real characters in my dream, except the body and the police officer who was asking me if I put it in my soup (um, no!). So I’m going to give you a tidbit.

My cat’s name is Kimi. He is a boy cat, though no longer a Tom-cat. People think he is a girl cat because he has “a girl’s name” and because he is a gentle and sweet and loving ball of fur (and dander). He does not, however, have a girl’s name. He is named after a Finnish race car driver, who as it happens is a Tom-cat. Kimi is a great cat, and someday I may very well name a character after him—maybe a sweet friend character in a futuristic novel, a boy who is steadfast, not brave, but willing to put himself out there for the girl he secretly loves.

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