Dear Boyfriend of Sister #1,
You two have been together a long time. Why? Tell me what attracts you to her. I know a lot of your downs, mostly hers. I don’t know any of the highs. You can’t hang around in this book as some sort of eye-candy. That’s not going to work.
Tell me what she does that really ticks you off. Tell me why she doesn’t have any close girlfriends. Tell me if you think the two of you will still be together by the end of this book.
Dear Little Brother of Sister #1,
Tell me your favorite memory you share with your sister. Is she nice to you? Does she help you clean your room or do your homework? Do you ever spy on her?
So far you’re acting a lot like a dog in a book, a dog that doesn’t really need to be there. If I can yank you out of the story and not notice, well, you’re going to be history pretty soon.
Dear Mother of Sister #1,
Do you have a backbone or a heart? I can’t figure out which.
Have you told her the truth or nothing but lies?
And that husband you have now, how much does he really know about the real story?
Last week when my characters wrote back to me I could finally hear a couple of distinct voices calling out to me. This is proving to be a great plotting exercise for me. Here are this week’s letters to my characters.
Dear Plant Kid,
First off, some sympathy that Nan and your grandmother seem to be making you feel bad all the time. Sometimes grownups can be mean without even trying. I’m sure they both love you very much.
I want to hear more about how your dad died but I understand if you don’t feel like talking about it right now. Maybe you could just tell me about that thing you found that used to belong to your dad. I don’t want to fall into cliche territory here and it seems highly possible, considering your situation and all.
And what about Mr. Mac? You haven’t talked about him in a while.
Thank you for sharing that special memory of your sister with me. I know it wasn’t easy. I’m glad you had Mrs. Winslow there to help you. I seem to be focused a lot on dead dads today so maybe, since you aren’t ready to tell me about how your sister died, maybe you could tell me what happened with your dad?
And what about that gypsy lady? Is she still around?
I might as well get all the dead dad questions out of the way at the same time. I want to know what you felt like when you found out your father was dead.
Dear Plant Kid,
Tell me about what happened to your dad. How did he die? How was your life different before he died?
One curious author
Were you trying to shock me with that comment about how you killed your sister? Because it’s didn’t work.
I’m not shocked and you didn’t kill your sister. Forget what your mother and her loser boyfriend of the week are telling you. It’s not your fault. You didn’t pull out a gun and shoot her or sit on her in the bathtub until she drowned. It was an accident. Really.
Can you tell me one happy memory about you and your sister? Just one?
Author who wants to be sure she gets your story straight
Okay, so I get your point about the medical procedure one you had to have. And I get that it’s a great big secret. I’m even pretty sure I know which one of you had to have it.
But so what? What does that have to do with the story we’re trying to tell here?
Author who is trying to see what parts of each of you are inside of me
Dear Plant Kid,
You ought to know I’m rethinking the beginning of your story. Not the part with the bird but the part where you meet the old man for the first time. I’m not buying the story which makes selling it to the reader a bit tough. I’m also thinking about that thing that happened to your arm in one of the other versions. It might be making a comeback. Just thought you should know.
Author who is confused but intrigued by the complex relationships in your life
Ask your boy to tell me something that would surprise me.
Author wondering how she is going to balance all the horrible stuff that is going to happen to you with something good
To be honest, neither one of you is all that interesting to me right now.
Author who may be backburnering you for a while unless you can do something to change my mind
Just a few recent letters to my characters prompted by scenes I am playing around with at the moment.
Dear Plant Kid,
I fell in love with you all over again when you found the gopher snake. Of course Gran wasn’t nearly as pleased as me. Did you find it yet?
You may have just been trumped by a dead sister but it’s a temporary situation I’m sure. I suggest you stay where you are for the time being. I know it’s not the home of your heart but you’re safer there and that makes it easier for your boy when he does what he has to do next.
Dear Sister #1,
I thought what you did that night was his choice, not yours. You’re not who I thought you were and that makes you a very interesting character. I don’t like you as much as I did when we started this journey, but that’s okay. I don’t have to like you, I just have to believe you. And I do.
Dear Sister #2,
You’re the strong one. I know it doesn’t feel that way at the moment but I can already tell you are the strongest of the pair of you. It’s not just what you’ve had to endure, although that has certainly added to your strength. You’re also very talented but I wish you wouldn’t hide your talent in those books. It’s okay to share.