I finally decided to try having a long dialog with my hero because I was keeping the entire story at arm’s length. That was perhaps OK for the first draft, but it won’t work for the revision.
So I took out my notebook and started writing. The first time I wrote mostly about me, not the character, but I learned some things about me I didn’t know. But the second and third times it was about my hero, and I found it a little too close for comfort.
As crazy as this sounds, I thought that all athletes like themselves and felt confident and didn’t have inner conflicts. Did I have experience that contradicted that belief?– absolutely! Did it make any difference? No! It actually played a part in destroying a relationship with my best friend at MSU right after we graduate. But that still didn’t exorcise this demon.
But when I had the dialog with my hero, who played football and baseball in high school, he had as many conflicts as I ever had.
I also wanted to believe that my conflicts were entirely caused by my alcohol-drenched childhood. But I learned while talking to Chris, my hero, that some of these come with the territory of growing up in this highly competitive society.
I have changed how I see him and the novel just got a lot deeper.
I am spending time later this week-end to do the same dialog with his opposite, Liz.
I think I am giving control of the novel to the characters.
I’m thrilled and frightened at the prospect. I have no idea of how I am going to tie up all the loose ends if they run with the story. But I am going to find out.
Note: When I dialoged with Liz, the terrorist, the late 1960’s came rushing back, with all my tormented conflicted feelings and life. Dialoging with the characters is the most useful tool I’ve yet found, aside from dialoging with my writing itself.