A Character’s View On The Book—Madeleine O’Brien

An image from Madeleine’s book

Hi, nice to meet all of you. I’ve been reading JM’s posts and your comments, and I feel like I already know you. What a great community you have here. Maybe I should start a blog. . . . Well, on second thought, no, that wouldn’t be a good idea. The interesting events and people in my life aren’t something I can talk about in my world. But I hope they’ll make an entertaining novel in yours.

For the record, I have not been hanging out on a tropical beach or in shopping malls, no matter what JM posts. Summer’s a busy time for me. I have a lot of archaeological projects to deal with. And let’s not forget about time travelers…. So much as I might want to kick back on a beach with a mojito, it’s not happening. Sorry, but time travel doesn’t necessarily let you be in two places at once, no matter how handy that would be.

Jack and I help with the book as we can. But we don’t think we should stand behind JM and dictate the story for her. The actual sequence of events in our world probably wouldn’t translate well into a novel in yours. She needs to take the ideas and find the words to draw you in. Frankly, I think she took too much of that dictation with her first novel, and now there are important (and time-consuming) revisions to make.

JM’s beginning to realize this and is working through it, like she does with archaeological reports. Heaven knows there are days I don’t want to write them, either. But we have to. Deadlines can’t be blown off if you want to keep your clients—or your job. And while writing a novel is a choice, she knows it requires hard work, too.

An image from Madeleine’s lab

I was surprised by the number of characters and events she’s cut from this draft. There will be some unhappy campers when they find out. But Jack and I agree it simplifies the story. It’s too complex to cover everything. Rather like making a film adaptation of a book in some ways when you think about it.

Anyway, I’m glad to see she’s making progress on the revisions. Once she’s done with this round, Jack and I will take a look at the manuscript and offer suggestions again. But we’re waiting until she tweaks the last chapter. It should wrap up the main story of this book but also help set the stage for Book 2, which follows immediately in time. I hope the “beta readers,” as she calls them, will say this draft shows improvement. I think it does, from what I’ve seen, but I know she has more rounds of revisions and rewrites before she can say she’s finished. Much as we’d like to see the book published, we don’t want bad reviews.

And finally, on behalf of all the characters of both manuscripts, I’d like to ask the following question. We’d like to be an integral part of the blog, since we’re the reason for it—but only if readers think that’s a good idea. If you could please spare a moment to answer the following poll, we’d really appreciate it. Now if you’ll excuse me, Jack and I are expecting company. . . .

44 thoughts on “A Character’s View On The Book—Madeleine O’Brien

    • Thanks, Vanessa! I did three of these early on, but I doubt many people saw them. :) So I thought I’d try again and see what kind of response I get. The characters know not to give too much away, but they do think they should have a say in the blog! And they’re not too shy to tell you what they think of me. ;)

  1. What a wonderful idea, JM. I had toyed with something along these lines, but I could never figure out exactly how I wanted to do it. I think I was afraid of giving away too much of the story. But Madeline is quite classy and respects your boundaries by not giving away detail. :)

    Madeline, I’m glad you and Jack are in agreement over JM’s changes. That will make revisions so much easier for her. I’m also glad to know that you haven’t been off cavorting on a beach somewhere.

    Hope that author and cast all have a fun and productive weekend!

    • Thanks, Kate! We’re working away at the revisions. If all goes well, I’ll get that last chapter drafted up this weekend. Then I’ll give the whole thing another general run through. And then you should see an email from me in your inbox about this draft. ;)

      I think your characters would have some fascinating insights into their book. And I think they’d respect your boundaries, too, and not give away too many details. I think character insights into authors are an interesting exercise, actually, even if they don’t become blog posts. Sometimes the characters can reveal things about us that make for some good lessons. Maybe we should all ask our characters to tell us what they think about us…. ;)

      Hope you’re giving Scrivener a chance to prove itself this weekend!

      • I like your idea of having characters ‘interview’ the author to help us understand ourselves better. I think you’re onto something quite valuable.

        Yes, Scrivener and I have been getting to know each other a little bit more today. I realized belatedly that I started my new novel in a ‘blank’ template as opposed to the ‘fiction’ template. That’s why I didn’t know about the character and setting worksheets you were talking about!

        I’ll have to figure out how to move everything over without confusing myself too much. Heh heh. That might require another blog post. ;)

        • If you haven’t looked at it closely yet, the default template for fiction is set up with a chapter folder and individual scenes within the chapter. But the “Novel Format” document at the very top of the template gives instructions for changing to straight chapters if you’d like. If nothing else, the old standby of copy and paste to move parts from your original project to the new one always works. :)

          Ha, my characters aren’t shy about telling me what they think of me! But other writers might be in for a surprise if they asked their characters for their thoughts! ;) Hmm, that might be an idea for a post….

          • Good to know. I’m going to look at Scrivener-baby right now.

            Looking forward to seeing your revisions. I think I’m getting Jack Withdrawal symptoms. ;)

  2. Interesting take on it. Makes a change from the usual way of updates, and a good way to show your character in a different light.

    • Thanks, Elliot! When I decided to start a blog, the characters were quick to tell me they wanted the occasional chance to speak, too. I knew better than to say no. But they also realize they can’t commandeer the blog too often. After all, they’re supposed to be preparing the sequel ideas, too. ;)

  3. I’m asking my main character to take the Myers-Briggs test. Should be interesting. I haven’t thought of her writing a blog post for me. I may do so!

    • Oh, now there’s an interesting idea! I’m a believer that the characters exist “out there.” So I think your MC should have different results from you on that test. You could do a post comparing your test results with hers…. That could be an interesting twist, too. I’m all for hearing from the characters. Mine know not to give away the plot, and I bet yours would, too. ;)

  4. Make sure JM doesn’t overwork you, Madeleine! :) I like this—I bet it’s a good way of getting in touch with the characters in a different way. Are you finding it helpful so far?

    • Oh, yes, it’s helpful. Painful sometimes, but helpful. :) You have to understand, my characters are not shy about letting me have it from time to time. When they found out I was starting a blog, they made it clear they wanted to write posts, too. I know better than to cross them if I want to keep writing! :)

    • Thanks, Kate! Unlike me, my characters are not shy and enjoy talking about themselves. Or, in the case of a couple of them—carefully diverting your attention where they want it. ;) All in a day’s work for them….

      I think we’ll be hearing more from some of these folks down the line. :)

    • Oh, yes, there are indeed some unhappy campers as Madeleine indicated. Some of the cut characters had “important” supporting roles, but there were just too many. So they got rolled into others. And several remaining characters lost their POV status, which meant removing entire subplots and replacing them with others for remaining POV characters.

      If all goes well, I’ll finish “Draft 3.0″ by early week. Then it’s some basic revisions to send “3.1″ out for review to see if my changes from Draft 2 are working. I hope so! :)

    • Thanks, Lisa! My characters are very involved in this blog. They threatened not to let me have one unless they had the chance to post, too. I had to comply—I don’t want them hitting me with a writer’s block! ;)

    • Thanks, Dianne! You’ve made the day for my characters. :) They quite rightly believe they’re the stars of the show, not the writer transcribing their stories. ;)

      There will be more guest posts, I promise!

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  6. “…Hope you’re giving Scrivener a chance to prove itself this weekend…”

    The MAC version is totally transparent – hope this true with the WINDOWS version. I find it totally incredible to work with, especially storing every bit of research…

    My characters tell me to shut up, since I hired them from my own mind, I don’t need to advise them… such egos.

    Great post j

    • Thanks, David. :) I really enjoy using Scrivener. It it so much easier to write comfortably in it than in Word. It would be hard for me give it up.

      So far my characters are fairly considerate of me—although at times they use my head to bicker across the novels with each other. That gets a bit distracting sometimes! And many of them aren’t shy about telling me when I get things wrong. Despite the occasional frustrations, I’m glad they’re part of my life. :)

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