I’m a visual person. I always do best when I can see something. If I’m to learn something new, show me – and then let me do it. (Kinesthetic is my second learning style. Auditory falls waaaay down on the list.) I also really love finding errors in continuity when watching a TV show or a movie (not in judge-y way – but in a detective-on-a-mission way).
What do these things have in common? The way in which I’m tracking my novel.
Everyone has their own process for writing. Generally, my short stories develop as I go. I might have an idea of where I want the story to end up, but I don’t hold to it if it feels more natural to go elsewhere. (I learned this lesson in grad school when a particularly stubborn character was just not having the trajectory I wanted for her. She eventually got her way.)
But a novel is a beast. Too many subplots and details to hold in my head. So hello PowerPoint. Each character gets a slide, or two or three, for me to keep track of things like birthdays and meanings of names and AIW characteristics. (The more minor characters that pop up, the more I gotta dig deep into the AIW canon to find connections.)
I’m also finding some joy in casting my characters. It keeps the visual movie playing in my head from shifting when I have concrete people walking around trying to hit their marks. I give you my main cast:
Meet Alice. Also known as Emily Wickersham, who plays Ellie Bishop on NCIS. Alice is, of course, based around the lead character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. She is a little bit me. I picked this actress specifically for the role she played in NCIS because I enjoyed her energy and the idea of taking one’s life on a new path simply to shake things up.
Meet Stanley Hoppenworth. Also known as James Marsden. I’ve lost track of where I first encountered him as an actor, but I LOVED his performance in Hairspray, the musical turned movie. He’s got a little bit of the goofiness that I love so much – but he also has the needed polish and glamor Stanley requires. Though I tend to refer to this novel as Alice’s story, it is equally Stanley’s. He, too, is on a journey of this own. (I really wanted to frame this character after Leslie Odom Jr, who I once saw perform with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and who gave me goosebumps with his rendition of “Without You” from Rent. But Stanley is one of the POV narrators, and I certainly don’t feel qualified to write from the explicit perspective/POV of a Black man.)
Meet Tarrant Hightopp. Also known as Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played Lola in Kinky Boots (I encountered this story from the movie, I should note, since there is also a Broadway show based around it). I was absolutely captivated by his performance. If you haven’t seen it, go now. You can thank me later.
Meet Carol Lewis Hightopp. Also known as Jurnee Smollett, who I first encountered on Grey’s Anatomy – she had a brief story arc surrounding a clinical trial aiming to cure a particular type of brain tumor. Though Carol is Tarrant’s wife, that is the least of all that she is. She is a force to be reckoned with. I want her to be real simply so I can be her friend.
And this is Lily. She is truly written as a tribute to the force that is Debra Messing – who, among other great projects, is Grace Adler on Will & Grace – the show that for a young girl living in a teeny-tiny town pre-internet whose best friend just came out to her was EVERYTHING. Messing is a queen. Lily will be, too (once she shows up on the page…).
That’s my first round of casting. More to come. 🙂
All pics linked from IMDb.