En Media Res, or Your MC’s History

Have I mentioned lately that Lisa Cron is a wonderful gift to writers? I have a ton of notes I took from her talk at RWA-San Diego a couple months ago, and I could expand a blog post on almost every paragraph. But the one I am looking at today is her reminder that our characters do not step out “on stage” without memory, experiences, or misbeliefs. Somewhere in there is our plot, our story, and our conflict.

If I were a character in a book, I would have five decades of experience to look back on. In those years are the time when I was touched inappropriately by strangers, three different times, which led me to fear men and not feel comfortable when I lost weight. I was shy, obviously, and I had no self esteem.

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In those years, I lost a grandmother, an aunt, and an uncle. I grew apart from cousins, but embraced friends as if they were my true family. I wrote and had a rich fantasy life. I moved from one religious system of belief to another, and accept anyone’s ideas because only the person involved can know what is right for them.

I worked in Social Services, and while, yes there are those who abuse the system, there are children in homes with little food, often no furniture, and frustrated adults who lash out in anger. Yes, my heart bleeds for them, and in the time I worked with the disadvantaged, nothing really improved.

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So my character self would be kind, but cynical, love making people laugh, mourn the loss of relatives of her own or people she knows, and loves social media because I can have over 600 close, personal friends.

That character would not fit into Regency England society. Especially not in the lower orders. So unless she had a fortune in her own right, and could live independently, her drive to help the poor and make people laugh would be a scandal. Given the state of medicine at the time, she would have died young from complications of diabetes. Or she would have eaten farm to fork meals, walked everywhere, and kept her weight and health in line.

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The other obstacle would be that she would want to have regular sex, married or not. Of course, one novel I read, and do not, sadly, recall the title or the author, indicated that a certain widow of means specifically hired her footmen for their broad shoulders, good looks, and stamina. So there could have been a solution.

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Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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