When I wonder what to work on next, I usually look to my characters for the answer. Which of them is in the worst state right now? Who is enduring the most emotional turmoil? Is anyone in mortal danger? What I’m really asking is, who has the most at stake?
At the moment, I have a character who just realized he and his best friend can finally become lovers (and hasn’t yet realized what that will cost them), a couple making out for the first time (and unaware of the danger approaching them), and a woman sitting alone in a dark room holding herself responsible for things completely outside of her control that are already done and over with.
The first two couples are in imminent mortal danger, but are having a lot of fun where I left off in writing their stories. The last is in no physical danger whatsoever, but she’s in that dark room. Who has the highest stakes at the moment? That woman sitting alone. She’s questioning everything she thought she knew about herself. Hers is the story I want to write next because I can’t leave her there.
That emotional investment in my characters is what propels me forward in my writing. I care about these fictional people. I want them to find their way, to build a life for themselves that will result in more happiness than sorrow. That’s what keeps me showing up at the page day after day, and what I hope will keep the readers turning pages, unable to stop until they know that this character they now also love is going to be okay.
I want my readers to have a fun, thrilling adventure when they read my books. More than that, my goal as an author is for the love I feel for my characters to come through in my writing and for my readers to love them as well.