The head trip. I am a fan. Maybe I’m a bit obsessed with it. And maybe you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about.Vanities. Fears. Uncertainties. Prejudices. All the things that shape a character’s motivation. I’m talking about mental clutter. Everything that floats around in a person’s head. The stuff that makes him who he is. What he thinks. What he feels.
I’m completely addicted to that. The innards. The cogs. The mechanism.
I like to know what’s going on in a person’s head. The context underneath the words. The reasons for that sudden need for the hero to avert his eyes when he’s interacting with the heroine. And most of the time, you only get a taste of that in a story.
It drives me crazy.
Because what I want most is the opportunity to really, truly see what drives a person to make the choices he makes.
Oftentimes, in romance novels, there little bit of a tendency for an author to say, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing. These cats belong together. Just trust me on that.”
I can’t trust the author. I want to. Believe me, I do. I just can’t. Not if he or she isn’t offering me a glimpse into their minds. Letting me hear their thoughts or showing me why this person chose that action.
It’s a disease. Unfortunately, there is no support group. Or antidote. I’m one cursed reader.
Part of why I wrote my novel, Drew In Blue, in the manner I did was because of the aforementioned affliction I suffer from. I did so for full disclosure for the reader, and for the sake of my own sanity. Granted, the main character, Drew Doyle, doesn’t show all his cards. But the ones he does lay down from time to time help to form a complete picture.
See, I started writing Drew In Blue in my normal third-person perspective, that lovely omniscient author perspective where I can play lord and master of all the characters. Yank some puppet strings. Boss imaginary people around.
Except Drew was coming off as kind of a jerk. Not an endearing jerk, either. It’s frustrating when you find yourself confronted with such a reality. You can stare at a document for hours yelling, “Hey, I’m the boss of you. Pay attention. Be endearing, you big jerk!”
Doesn’t work. So I had to take a step back and figure out what was wrong.
I was being a big bossy writer, that’s what was wrong.
So I had to let go. I turned over the reins to Drew, and things started to click. He needed to tell his story, not me. Now, you’re probably wondering if I’m off my medication at this point. I’m really not. Yes, I know Drew Doyle doesn’t exist in the real world. But he exists up in my head, and on paper. So I had no choice but to let him show me how to give all you lucky people who don’t know what my mind looks like a complete picture of who he is.
The jerk disappeared. He turned into a person who presents a false front to the world he lives in. He shows disdain for the people around him. He pulls away when he gets too close to someone. He isolates himself from a world he claims to loathe.
But that head trip kicks in. And while he may not be showing it to the people around him, he’s showing the reader what the real story is. Because he’s letting you inside his head. Granting you exclusive insight. That disdain is really frustration at not knowing how to fit in. That pulling away is really because he’s afraid to lose any more of the people he loves. Underneath the mouthy jerk lies a man with a huge heart, who simply doesn’t know how to use it. The picture is complete. The ability to feel sympathy for him and to (hopefully) root for him is present.
God, I love a good head trip. And I’m really glad I finally took a shot at channeling my little obsession into a writing experiment of my own. Now, if I could only get the hero in this story I’m reading right now to sit down and let me dig around in his brain for a bit, I’d be a happy camper.
J.M. Kelley is the debut author of Drew In Blue, a contemporary romance ebook available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance, and OmniLit. Drew In Blue was a nominee for Best Contemporary of 2010 on The Romance Reviews, and is a TRR and Night Owl Reviews Top Pick. Visit http://www.jmkelleywrites.com for excerpt, reviews, purchase links, and author blog.