By Cait Collins
Sometimes I have trouble getting into my characters heads. I just don’t understand why they don’t respond as I think they should. To correct the problem, I try to recall a similar incident in my own life and recall my emotions and responses. How did my reactions differ from those of the character? How did I express my feelings? How do my character traits compare to those of the character?
Here’s the situation. Cara has been dating Mark for several months. She thinks everything is fine until she sees him with her best friend, Barbie. There is nothing suggesting the encounter is casual. In fact, it’s a steamy public display of affection or lust. The lip-lock speaks volumes.
Cara is devastated. Instead of confronting the couple, she breaks into tears and runs off. Once she gets home, she calls a couple of her friends and tearfully tells the story to them. Soon Barbie is no longer welcome in the friends circle and Mark is getting the cold shoulder from everyone. It’s a pretty typical response. And boring.
What if Cara pretended she wasn’t bothered by the events? Why not do the stiff upper-lip bit and shrug it off in public. Then when she’s alone, she breaks down and cries her eyes out. No tears in public. No angry displays. No name calling. After all, no self-respecting woman wants a man to think he can’t be replaced.
Instead Cara begins to write that novel she claimed she always wanted to write. She kills Mark and Barbie off in the book. The book is picked up by a big publishing house and it becomes a best seller. Cara finds happiness in a new career and in a new relationship. She maintains her self-respect and doesn’t have to apologize for making a scene and making everyone’s lives miserable.
Have I ever used this method to get over a bad situation? Absolutely. Writing is the best therapy.