I first met Marci Nault through her wonderful new novel The Lake House. Not only is she the founder of 101 Dreams Come True, a website dedicated to the power of dreaming, but she's also an electrifying speaker and a partner in the online bridal boutique Elegant Bridal Designs. I'm honored to host Marci on the blog today. Many thanks, Marci!
Writing With My Eyes Closed – Creating Depth in Scenes and Characters
The world changes for me whenever I pick up my camera, feel the weight of my lens in my hand, and look through the viewfinder. Instead of seeing the big picture, I look for the tiny details: an angle that leads my eyes to beauty or even a rusted bike wheel that reminds me of childhood summers. Through my lens I find a world that calms me, forces feelings and creates memories.
It’s not so different from the way I write, but instead of looking outward to the world, I turn my vision inward. I close my eyes, find my setting or character and I search for the small details.
The first time I met my character, Victoria Rose, I was sitting in my living room terrified to write for fear that I wouldn’t be good enough. Then Victoria came to me – an older woman standing in her sunroom in the middle of the night with three candles lit. A battered sweater, tinged with the smell of mothballs, was wrapped around her shoulders. Patsy Cline played in the background and a spring breeze came off the lake and through her windows. Victoria swayed and pretended she danced with a little girl, her child, and I realized that the daughter was no longer with her in this world. Then I looked at the candles and knew that each flame was for a woman she’d lost.
Tears filled my eyes as I felt this woman’s heartache. I fell into the depth of loss and regret and how her soul screamed but had to continue to live. Victoria, at that moment, was as real as anyone I’d ever met, but somehow I felt closer to her than real life. I knew that she’d come home to Nagog, the tiny lakeside community in New England where she’d grown-up, because she needed its warmth, love, and a chance to remember happiness.
Each time I write a scene or a character, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and allow a world, not quite my own, to create pictures in my mind’s camera. I seek out the details: the smells, the sounds, how things feel, and the world that defines the character’s personality. Then I do the hardest thing; I allow the emotions to overtake me. I experience every moment of pain, happiness, laughter, and anger. My kittens have kissed away tears many times while I’m writing. Thank goodness I also write funny scenes or I might not get out of bed.
It’s through this empathy and quiet that I can make my characters and setting come to life, and when readers write to me and tell me that they want to move to Nagog Lake I know that every emotion was worth it.