Muses o’ muses

#writingwednesday #inspriation #WWWBlogs

Where do you get your inspiration when writing your characters? I’d guess that there are lots of places, but usually they come from people you know – or used to know – during the course of your life. People come in and out of our lives. Some are here for a brief period but are memorable for a reason, good or bad. Others are with us for the long haul. But there are some, maybe only one, who come into our lives in a way that touches our heart forever.

When I wrote Scout’s Honor, I knew that I wanted to have a main male character who was everything that I find to be good – in not just a best friend – but also in a man. So I created Charlie Porter. I knew what I wanted him to look like, his personality, the way he saw life and people, his own internal struggles, but more than anything, I wanted him to serve as the very definition of love. It know that’s a tall order, certainly in this life, but if I get to be the “God” of my story, then I’m creating this guy. My book is not a “Christian” novel, meaning it isn’t Christian literature or meant to be about Christianity in particular, although it does play a role in the story because Scout’s family is Christian.

1st Corinthians 13 in the Bible is generally known as “the Love chapter” because it defines love in such a way that it encompasses all types. You can read it and see friendship. You can read it and see marriage and romantic love. You can read it and see parental love. It runs the gamut. I wanted my character Charlie to be that kind of a fixture in Scout’s life – someone who truly loved her – in every way a person could be loved – for her entire life.

So who is my muse for such a relevant and meaningful young man? It’s asking an awful lot – probably too much – to have such a person in real life. Most of us don’t get to have such a thing, at least not for our entire lives. But I’m the writer of this tale, so I get to create whatever I want!

I had to look deep inside of myself for Charlie. Because I’ve never had such an individual in my own life, I thought instead of a few men – who were friends to me – real friends to me – during different phases in my life. They weren’t necessarily romantic interests, but I was fortunate enough to have them in my personal story at particular key time periods, from my youth to college to the Army and the current day.

There was the one who was my closest male friend all through college, who looked out for me, and always had my back. We went to Airborne School together and he stuck with me during off hours because of how many soldiers were asking me out and trying to talk to me. (It was amazing how much better looking I became when I went into the military LOL) He talked me through rough times, spent a lot of time with me, worked out with me, helped me if I ever needed it, and was all around one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. Later, I’d be invited to his wedding. And that was about it. Phase was over.

Some years later, while on active duty, I made another male best friend. We met during our basic course and both got assigned to the same permanent duty station in Northern Virginia. For some reason, our military jobs tended to be either with each other or within close proximity of one another. We spent a lot of time together. He helped me though a very challenging period in my life and he, like the one from my college years, took over as the guy who had my back, looked out for me and helped me if I ever needed it. And later, I’d also be invited to his wedding. Then we both got out of the Army around the same time…and that was about it. Phase was over.

These (at the time) young men, and a couple of others later, have been truly kind to me, generous with their time and conversation, and they touched my heart forever. They defied the conventional Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally wisdom that men and women can’t be friends – because the sex thing always gets in the way. I’ve used these guys from my personal life story, as well as certain characteristics from my husband, as my Charlie muses to help me create the kind of character I wanted to portray in my book: someone that Scout could always rely upon. Someone with strong character, spirit, a tender and giving heart, a great work ethic, and who meant what he said. Someone who did not betray her trust. Someone who was not crippled by is own insecurities but instead working on them through his own head. Someone who acted – always – from a place of genuine goodness instead of their petty self interest. Someone who did the right things and for the the right reasons. Someone who was authentic and raw and would never purposely do anything to hurt his friend.

Muses can come from anywhere. People you know is the obvious source, but they can also come from people you don’t know – those who live in the spotlight. I certainly used a few of those for one of my characters. Muses can be people you wish you knew, creations of the kinds of people you always wanted in your life but never got to have.

Who are your muses?


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