"Gabrielle Holly spins her stories in a way that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster you'll never forget!"
~Paranormal Romance Junkies

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing About Sex - A Sense of Place - How My Ghost Characters Told Me Their Names

Last summer I'd passed through a nearby Mississippi River town and fell in love with an old, abandoned building on Main Street. The date carved into the sandstone pediment is A.D.1888. Half of the windows are boarded over, the red brick is crumbling, and the wood trim is nearly devoid of paint. The moment I saw it I told my travelling companion, "That's the setting for Book 2 in my paranormal romance series."

"It's falling apart!" he said.

"I know. It's perfect."

I'd snapped a couple of photos with my cellphone and, once home, I searched the Internet for more pictures of the tiny downtown area. I printed out a couple of the shots and hung them near my desk.

When I was 12,000 words into the book (about half way) I became hopelessly stalled. Two pivotal characters - the ghosts of star-crossed lovers - still remained nameless and I couldn't work out the logistics of a certain scene. I tried to focus on the task at hand, but that building would not let me concentrate. I had to go see it in person again. Immediately.

It was not an ideal day to be out and about. The Midwest was in the midst of a seemingly endless heat wave. The air conditioning in my Jeep is broken and the temperature that afternoon was well over 90-degrees. I'm usually a bit of a wimp when it comes to uncomfortable weather, but I was absolutely certain that I had to spend some time up close and personal with this freakin' building if I was ever going to get any more writing done. 

I was cranky and overheated by the time I arrived in the historic district. The building sits on a corner and I walked first one block and then the other. I looked at it from across the street and then from the alley. I walked up the steps, ran my hand along the facade, and peered into windows. I spent a good hour viewing and photographing the building from every angle. I got close-ups of the disrepair and wide angles to illustrate the building's place on the block.

Satisfied that I had everything I needed to carry on, I started to head back to my car. The street slopes down to the river and I'd parked near the end of the block. I was almost to the car when that crumbling old building, called to me again. I felt a little silly trudging back up the hill and pulling out my camera again, but I was absolutely compelled to do so.

The sun had moved across the sky in the hour I'd been poking around and on this second trip up the hill, it hit the side of the brick building at a new angle. I was able to see that names had been scratched into some of the bricks. Two of them were side by side and written in the same straight-angled style: "Vinnie" and "Daisy". 

There they were, the names of my two ghost-lovers. I snapped a photo of each etched brick and headed back down the hill. By the time I reached the car, I'd worked out the logistics problem with the scene I'd been writing. It was as if once I knew Vinnie's and Daisy's names, I could tell their story.



With Love and Gratitude for Your Support... xoxo Gabrielle

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