Monday, November 25, 2013

Revisiting The Fictional Thanksgiving Table

Time for a trip down memory lane with the top characters from my many novels. I hope you enjoy their Thanksgiving debates. See if you can pick out storylines, personalities, and interests based on dialogue alone. It's a great practice in deep POV :-)

It wasn’t your typical Thanksgiving lunch. In fact, not one living person was present. Just us fictional characters. We’d decided to get together while the computer was turned off and the author couldn’t rearrange our lives any more. Not that she had much power anyway. We had minds of our own, so we usually caused as much trouble for her as she did for us.

Sure, she started a sketchy plot, developed some general physical guidelines, typed the words on the page, but after that…once she breathed personalities into us – well, it was only a matter of time before we took over the stories. They were our stories, after all.

I've never understood why she puts so much conflict into our stories, though. It felt unending. Conflict, conflict, conflict. One of her favorite writing quotes is ‘conflict is at the heart of a good story.”

Bad news if you're a character.

So I called together some of the heroines to discuss this unfair life over a little Thanksgiving dinner.


“I haven’t been to a Thanksgiving meal in eight years.” Immaculately dressed Dr. Adelina Roseland said, her smile a little uncertain but her pronunciation flowed without one flaw. “Thank you for inviting me, Eisley. I know you must stay busy as a single-mom of three, but you always seem to have time to entertain.”

I shrugged. Entertain? Yep, with a lot of unintentional comedy involved. “It's a treat to get all of us heroines together, from the various genres and time periods.” I nodded toward Ashleigh who stood in full Edwardian attire. “We can certainly celebrate too.”

“Exactly. A brilliant notion.” Asheigh Dougall unpinned her broad-rimmed hat and revealed a mass of dark curls underneath. She had a sweet smile, but it never seemed complete. Like a piece of her was missing. I wonder if the author has even discovered the missing piece yet. Sometimes we surprise her halfway through the story with our little secrets. I love it when that happens.

     Ashleigh nodded to the table. "Though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in England, I can always find something of which to be thankful. Can't you?”

“I’m thankful that there isn’t one piece of red meat on this table.” Sophia Quinn sighed back into her chair and rolled her jade gaze up to the ceiling. “I see enough blood in my job, the less I have to look at it the better.”

Some of the other characters said she was a vampire slayer, but that couldn’t be right. The author would never write a story about vampires. She was a Christian, after all. It must be a literary term. Like code name for vegetarian feminist or something like that.

Adelina’s fork, filled with chicken salad, stopped in mid-air and lowered back to her plate. I think all the blood-talk kind of got to her. She was a city-girl after all. “Well, I’m thankful the author finally finished my book.” Adelina shook her head. “How long does it take one person to write a novel? She's been working on it for two years.”

“How long? Our author?” Ashleigh stirred her tea, her face a mirror of understanding. “You do realize she wrote my story nine years ago and has revised it so many times I don’t even know the ending anymore. Besides that, she’s changed the spelling of my name twice and my sister’s name three times. Poor girl, I attribute it to her…um…what did you call it, Eisley?”

“Absent-mindedness?”

“Forgetfulness?”

“ADHD?”

“No, I think you once referred to it as creative divergence. Yes, that’s right. Although all of the above are most likely involved.”

“If I was that indecisive in my job, I’d be dead.” Sophie grimaced and stabbed a piece of turkey with her fork. Perfect aim and a little unnerving. “I’m sure I could write a much better story than she can, or at least finish it. I don't even know if I survive to the end.”

“Don't worry,” I said. “Whatever the ending, it will be a happy one. She always writes happy endings.”

“Sure she does.” Came Sophie’s sarcastic reply. “I’m trying to be thankful here, but my story ending doesn’t look promising. She’s skipped about fifteen chapters to write the last one – and I'm left in the middle of a forest, bleed-.”

"Shh." Adelina's palm came up in warning, face a little paler than usual. "Don't tell the ending, or at least not at the dinner table."

Ashleigh smiled and waved away the concern. “ There's no cause to fret. You’re only a first draft, Sophie. There are no certainties at this point. Not even an ending at all. Just be thankful you’ve not been stashed into the...” Ashleigh lowered her voice to a whisper. “The drawer.”

I cringed and Adelina dropped her fork with a clang against the table.

“Now, Ashleigh, don’t go passing along horror stories.” I placed my arm on Sophie’s shoulder, but she pulled away. She wasn’t the huggy sort. “Just because a story goes into the drawer doesn’t mean it won’t come out again. She resurrected mine. Although she's rewritten it twice and cut at least thirty thousand words. I felt my life getting shorter with each cut. Sometimes I wonder what in print or e-pub she’s doing.”


“But your ending is still good.” Adelina chimed in. “I’m a little nervous about all these notes the author keeps taking about a submerged vehicle. You'd think having to help that silly cattle farmer of mine birth a cow would be enough torture.”

“Precisely.” Ashleigh snapped her napkin onto the table. “She has four books on historical accounts of the Lusitania  and a preposterous amount of notes on its sinking. Unless I’m wrong, I’m the only historical character at the table. This does not bode well for me at all.”

I tried to interject but Sophie stopped me with a look. "Oh you can't say anything, Eisley. If the worst thing that happens to you is getting locked in a 500 year old tower with a British hunk, I don't want to hear it. Try running for your life through an underground maze of tunnels with a hybrid vampire for company."

“Now guys, I know the author wants to write for the glory of God." I looked at Sophie and hesitated on the thought. Vampires? God's glory? I shrugged. Hey, who was I to know God's plans, right? "That has to help us deal with whatever she throws at us, right? I mean, she wants our stories to send a message of God’s love to the readers.”

“Our stories are part of a much bigger plan, even if we can't see the outcome directly in front of us.” Ashleigh offered.

“But wait a minute.” Sophie leaned forward, her unearthly emerald eyes catching the faint sunlight glimmering through the window. “The author’s own story isn’t so much different than ours then, is it?”


“What do you mean?”

We all leaned closer, well, not too close. Sophie wasn't very predictable with pointy-objects.

“She doesn’t know the ending of her story, not the exact ending – but she’s trusting Someone much bigger than herself to make it work.”

I smacked my forehead. Why didn’t I think of that. “Right.”

“Are you saying, God is the author of our author’s story?” Ashleigh’s smile bloomed complete this time.

“She must be very certain of his love for her.” Dee whispered and averted her gaze to the window.

“I bet she wonders what God is doing in her life sometimes, just like we wonder what in paperback she’s doing in ours.” I reached for a drumstick and shook it at each one of them. Ashleigh looked horrified at the waving chicken-leg. “But in the end, she does remember His love for her – and that’s why she can…” I swallowed hard. “She can be thankful for the good and bad that comes her way.”

“Despite German torpedoes, or unruly cattlemen, or exhausting ex-husbands, and…” Ashleigh lifted a brow toward Sophie and cringed. “Toothy undead. "The author believes her faith will be painted with literary brushstrokes through the stories of our lives – so that others can see God's love through us.”

“As she’s learning how to trust God with her own story, she’s writing ours.” It made everything a little clearer – and a whole lot easier to bear. Our stories, even our pain, had a purpose.

“If she can trust God with her story." Sophie sighed, a surrender-sigh. “Maybe we should be thankful we can trust her with ours.”

“Precisely.”

"It's the ultimate happily-ever-after." Dee offered. "And I don't have a whole lot of faith in those, so that's saying a lot."

“Well, I’m glad we’ve settled that.” I unveiled the cake in the center of the table. “Now it’s time for sweets.”

“Chocolate for dessert.” Sophie's eyes took on a fighting glint.

I laughed. “Really girls, is there any other kind?”

I Peter 1: 3-9

6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Thanks for reading to the end. Sorry for the long post. It's very difficult to write short scenes :-) Hope you enjoyed. So what are your characters saying about you?

Happy Thanksgiving

8 comments:

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Pepper, this was so fun. I loved the nuances you shared about both "writer" and character. :) Well done my friend! And the truths shared.....timeless.

Pepper said...

Thanks, Jeanne.
So I'm curious - what are your characters saying about you? :-_)

Mary Vee said...

This was a fun post!
My characters are especially happy about the setting. The small town charm has done it's job.

Meghan Gorecki said...

I LOVED this!
SO great! Just may do this exercise with my own characters soon!

Ashley Clark said...

Love this, Pepper!!!! How cute!!!!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

My characters are saying I'm still working out the role grace and forgiveness and contentment each hold in my heart. :)

My carefree subplot character Bella does the things I wish I was brave enough to do. :) My main female lead shows how task oriented I can be. :)

Karen Schravemade said...

Wow, Pepper! Hilarious - and also so very meaningful! Some absolute gems in here that made me laugh and made me think!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Pepper, I love this! You had me laughing out loud! What a great idea!