Have you ever had a fictional character speak to you?
Was it a character you're inventing by yourself?
That's what happened to me on Sept. 27, so it was fresh in my mind when the theme of the week turned out to be "My Moment of Genius."
When I set out to write some new material for my detective story. I felt like writing (but not "for you") and didn't know what I wanted to do with my characters. I turned to what I know they're doing: They're reading.
Mike Hossa, my detective character, is looking after Daisy MacDonald, the narrator of the story. One of her professors gave her a favorite novel, "The Sign of the Four" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mike is reading it to Daisy (and her neighbors, the better for them to "come on stage" now and then).
I found a paragraph at the end of Chapter 8, in which Sherlock Holmes tells his exhausted roommate, Dr. John Watson, to "Lie down there on the sofa, and see if I can put you to sleep." He starts to play his violin.
While I wrote out the description of Holmes playing his violin, I couldn't get through the first sentence before Daisy interrupted Mike -- and me -- with a moment of genius.
Jenny, Daisy's roommate, was a violinist, too. I didn't know much about her until I set out to copy this paragraph. But when I had gotten through just one sentence of Holmes' playing, I knew. It was just as if I heard Daisy saying, through tears, "Jenny did!"
Jenny had played for her roommate (and their neighbors), just as Holmes played for Watson. That opened up a whole scene based on Daisy and Mike's relationship growing stronger, a neighbor of Daisy's seeing that, and Mike using the evocative violin-playing paragraph to deepen his quizzing of the neighbors.
I know I didn't really hear Daisy speaking. Daisy doesn't exist, except on the pages of my notebooks (and the occasional screen of this blog). But it was just as though she spoke to me, and I count it as a moment of genius that I was ready to listen to her.
For more fun with words, stop by the Margaret Serious page on Facebook.
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