I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m a bit of a comic geek and have been since I was little. I’ve read a wide variety of them over the years, but my heart is always with Marvel. And Charlotte is well versed with me waxing lyrical on Bruce Banner, Victor von Doom and Stephen Strange, in fact at times she’s a little too well versed in my feelings there. In the same way that I’m a history geek and anyone who knows me will know well enough to stay clear of the topic of Thomas Cranmer or otherwise they will land up being lectured on the topic by me for hours. And why? Because the stories behind them, whether they be real or fictional find a place in my heart and make me feel.
Those are the stories that have always just got to me, the tragedies so to speak but the tragedies where in the end something good has come out of it (and ok, I’m not including Doom in here so don’t judge me on that basis!). They’re the ones that make your heart cry out because there is emotion and raw feeling involved when you get down to it, when you start peeling away and look at the human element of some of these stories.
And that, for me, is something I’d long since lost in my own writing. I’d forgotten what it was like to write and to make myself feel. I’d forgotten what it was like to write something for a character that is so inexplicably painful that it makes me want to sit down and bawl my eyes out. I’d forgotten that if I am to do my job properly, then I need to make sure that Charlotte feels my characters in the writing that I do. In the same way that I need to feel hers.
Afterall, if we don’t care about our story, and about our characters … no one else will on reading it.
I am going to blame my comic geekiness on this one, in fact I’m blaming it all on Marvel and their latest film in giving me Dr Strange and Bruce Banner feelings all over again. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here! But, it brought home to me that seeing some of my favourite characters on screen again just made me realise how … flat my own writing had become. How the feeling had gone and that was something that I needed to get back.
What, however, I wasn’t prepared for was just the combination of that revelation and what Charlotte and I are currently doing with our story. The sheer impact, the human cost of what goes on in our story. This past week, we’ve been working on two characters … characters who are perhaps the villains of the piece. Now, I love my villains. I love a villain who you can empathise with, who you can see into their past and understand where they’ve come from (it’s one of the reasons why I love Doom so much) but at the same time, that doesn’t give them the right to do as they’ve done.
I’d forgotten that one simple rule. Create a villain who can break your heart, but you can’t forgive. Create a villain that people can understand, not one that they won’t look at or for a moment empathise with. And in realising that, I spent a little bit of time with a couple of my villains … and the result is, I’m pretty sure they’ve stolen my heart. They’ve broken it in more ways than I know how to put into words and … I’m cross, really bloody cross with myself and with Charlotte that we’ve both failed to do this before.
But we’re here now, and that’s really what matters in the end … I just hope that this time, this time we stick to our guns and carry on the way we’re going. In breaking one another’s hearts, in feeling our writing.
I can’t speak for Charlotte, but I can speak for myself and say that I’ve found my passion and my love for writing in the ability to feel it.