Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Monday, April 03, 2017

On Deadline And Your Characters Aren't Talking

by Patricia Bradley

I said I'd never be here again...You know, behind on my deadline. I turned in my last book in July last year and here it is the middle of March and I’m only half finished with the first draft of a book due May 1. Six weeks to write forty thousand words, and then edit all ninety thousand. Oh, and the manuscript has to shine, as well.

I’ll get it done. I have no choice. Well, I could ask for an extension, but I realllllly don’t want to do that. So, I’ll suck it up and do whatever it takes to make the deadline.
If you’re an unpublished writer, have you ever considered how your life will change after you become contracted? I never had a clue. And while the changes aren’t bad, everything is suddenly different.

It took me five years to write my first book. Publishers don’t give their authors five years to write the second one.  I usually have nine months between deadlines. For some authors it’s only 4 – 6 months, so nine months seems like a lot of time to me. And I had every intention of starting this book way back in September, as soon as I finished a proposal for a cozy mystery that a publisher had asked for.

But guess what? Life happens. I lost a month when first I became ill and then my nephew almost died from sepsis. My brain was in a fog for another month. But finally January 5th, I started the book. And in February, my heroine stopped talking to me.  At forty thousand words, I was blocked.

And I knew why. I am a semi-plotter and not a seat-of-the-pants writer. And my heroine had not really stopped talking to me in February—she’d never really talked to me at all. While I knew the external goal, I didn’t know her internal goal. I didn’t know why she was doing what she was doing. But because I felt I had to get something on paper, I just started writing.

In March, I regrouped. Actually took a course on plotting. Laid down the external goal, which I knew, and then sat my heroine in a chair and started asking her why. Why was she so afraid of commitment? Why was she so independent? I drilled down, asking why until I discovered…well, if I tell you, it’ll give away the ending of the story.

At some point in your story, whether you’re a plotter or a panster or something in between, you have to know your character inside out. What makes her tick? What is she afraid of? What is he avoiding and why?  What’s his greatest dream and why can’t he have it. That’s the only way you’ll know how to torture your characters. And torture them you must. The greater the torture, the more the reader will root for them to overcome and win the gold medal. Or solve the crime. Or be with the person they love.

When I start my next book, I will not start writing until have a solid grasp on my character. It will make my writing so much easier, don’t you think? And how about you—have you been where I am right now? I talked about not knowing my characters well enough. Do you have any other tips you would like to add?


Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.


Post a Comment

Don't be shy. Share what's on your mind.