Girls Write Out
Monday, February 06, 2012
We're in Phoenix at our daughter's house right now for the winter. January to April was the plan. But I'd also hoped the kids would be able to fly out here to visit us midway through. We found out that isn't going to happen, so guess what? We're flying home for 4 days on Thursday. :) I can't do without those tight little hugs around my neck and those special kisses from my Punky. I always knew I would dearly love my grandchildren, but I had no idea just HOW MUCH.

This has gotten me thinking about my books and character motivation. If I told someone we'd bought two tickets to fly home for four days to see our granddaughter when we'd be back home for the rest of the year by the first of April, they might think I was crazy. The thing with a story is that you have to suspend disbelief. So the trick in a novel is to make the reader understand the motivation behind their decisions. For example, in Blue Moon Promise, Lucy is the guardian of her two siblings. Nate's father tells her he wants her to marry his son by proxy. She's never laid eyes on him. What could possibly motivate a woman to do such a thing? Here are Lucy's reasons: she's lost her job, she's being stalked by an unknown enemy, she has no money to feed her siblings, and her landlord is evicting her and selling the property. I'd say she has pretty substantial motivation to escape the situation. She might land in something even worse so it's a gamble. But she feels she has no choice.

But I'd love to talk about what motivates us to do what we do? I'll go first with this upcoming trip: Alexa misses us and has been crying for her Mimi and Poppy, (that's enough motivation right there) we miss Dave and Donna and they need some help from their father because none of the boys's cars are running, and the kids miss us.

What was the last decision you made that might seem irrational to outsiders and why did you do it? Warning--I just might use it in a book! :)


Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:23 PM  
  Comments (12)
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At 11:27 PM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

Sometimes I wonder if we over think the motivation for characters. I'm working on a story right now that is inspired by a Bible story. The great tragedy for the main character is that a woman does something that he should have accomplished. I’m ashamed to admit how much time I’ve spent coming up with a way to show why that is signifcant. The thing is, the Bible just lays it out there like it is obvious. And to be honest, I don’t know many men who don’t hate to be shown up by a woman.

But probably the silliest thing I’ve ever done is that when I was in college I drove an hour one way into town because there was a tool I wanted. I looked at it in the store, decided it was too expensive, and then drove an hour back home without having bought or done anything.

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Yes the Bible does lay it out there but then we aren't really empathizing with the characters really. We don't typically live the story with them the way we want our readers to. We don't really want our readers to look at a scene and want to skip it because the character was too stupid to live. LOL

So you needed the tool or just wanted it? and your motivation not to buy was the cost. That works when you're a poor college student. :)

At 11:56 PM, Blogger Ruthie said...

I had been away for an entire week, resting, praying, reading my Bible, and eating. Oh, the eating! The hotel I stayed in was notorious for its gourmet meals.

I arrived home all aglow about my adventure. We sent our son to school the next morning (Friday) and DH and I all of a sudden decided to go up to the same hotel as a family for the weekend. The trip took about 6 hours by car.

So we went to our son's school, took him out of class and told him we were going out for dinner. It wasn't until we drove into the parking area that he figured out what we were doing. So much fun!

Our motivation, though impulsive, was family time, a commodity that was in short supply due to DH's work duties. Twenty years later, we all still remember that weekend and smile.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Jennifer Mykytiuk said...

When my husband and I were dating (long distance). He was in school in Texas and I was in California working my first job. We had seen each other at New Years but weren't supposed to see each other again until middle of March. Well, I just couldn't stand the thought of waiting that long. So, I took a day off, bought a plane ticket, arranged a ride from the airport and surprised him for Valentine's Day. He was working in his dorm lobby, and I had his friend go in and give him a card from me to read right then. The card had a silly poem that ended with something about going outside to see something... I was standing there with a big sign that said "Surprise". Boy was he!

His roommate knew I was coming and talking him into picking up flowers for "his girlfriend", but they ended up being for me. His roommate didn't want him to be empty handed when I arrived on Valentine's day. That was probably one of the craziest, most irrational things I have ever done, and probably the most memorable of our dating life.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

I started to agree with you but no, I don’t buy that. The condensed nature of the Bible stories doesn’t prevent me from envisioning them as if I were right in the middle of them. But it is more than a scene that can be skipped. When we take a plot that will fit in one or two Bible chapters and expand it to novel length, something like that ends up being a thread that run throughout the whole story. The only question is whether the readers need to be convinced that it is a bad thing that a woman end up doing a man’s job or whether it is obvious why this is so.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ruthie, that sounds wonderful! I love those special family times.

I LOVE that story, Jennifer! :) Very fun.

Timothy, you must be better at putting yourself in a character's shoes than I am.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

Oh, Colleen, say it ain’t so. Aren’t you right there in Isaiah 6, ready to say “Here am I, send me”? Or aren’t you there in 1 Chronicles 14, listening for “a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees”? Or aren’t you there with Samson, wanting to feel the strength of the Lord, one more time?

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

I'm not Samson when I read that. I'm standing outside his body not in it. I identify with the characters and long to show that kind of courage, but I'm not living the story, no. I can apply truths to my life but it's a very different experience.

A small distinction but one that's very important to me, nonetheless. Novels are different from Bible stories. Maybe you don't get it because you're a guy. LOL When Esther is standing before before the king, I don't feel her heart pound or her fear. I don't feel Samson's palms sweat as he prays and grips the pillars to kill himself and everyone else in the building.

Novels are about emotion. I want motivation to be clear so the reader can feel that emotion and identify with the character. I work harder at that than anything else. :)

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

Colleen, would you consider it an insult if I told you that I’ve never felt like I was one of your characters while reading your books? A guy thing? Probably. Novels are about emotion? Absolutely. But why must we assume that readers will or should share the emotion of the characters? There is a constant comparison between the reader’s emotions, having experienced the same events, and those of the character. When I stand beside Isaiah and see the Lord high and lifted up, I don’t feel what Isaiah feels, but rather I’m miffed at myself for not volunteering before he did. As for Esther, I’ve never imagined what it was like to be her, but when I get over to chapter 5, I find myself looking through the king’s eyes and there’s Esther, standing in the inner court, and I’m thinking, “Wow! There she is!”

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

I'm not easily offended, Timothy. LOL we're just different and that's okay.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Ronya said...

Probably the most irrational thing that I've done is drive 5 hours into another state to pick up some curriculum for a customer of mine. It had been ordered far in advance and because of an oversight along the way, it wasn't there and she really needed it for the weekend. So after being sure that our other store had it, arranging for my friend to pick it up (since the store would be closed when I arrived), I left work and drove straight there. My motivation sadly had little to do with pleasing my customer and much more to do with getting to see my friend, who I had high hopes would be my Mr. Right. After getting there, receiving the curriculum, spending about 45 minutes with my friend and getting a hug, I was back in the car for a five hour drive home. Funny thing is, as irrational as it was...I would likely do it all over again. :O)

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Liz Flaherty said...

We just got back from our third trip to Florida in 9 months just because we wanted to go. This isn't irrational, I guess, but is so unlike us. And we enjoyed every minute!


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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