Five-Minute Writing Tip:
Lately, I've had to tell myself several times a day to "Get Over It!" Also, if you scroll down, you'll see that "Get Over It Day" is celebrated this month on the 9th. So I've chosen "Get Over It" as the subject of this writing tip. I've said a bazillion times that being a writer is not easy. Well, guess what? Being a marketing director isn't either. There are a lot of decisions to make: what manuscripts to accept, what book cover designs to use, etc. Then there are titles, fonts, photos, cover blurbs, and more to decide upon. When the team disagrees, it can be frustrating. So for me, heading into March, I have to get over it.
Back to the writing tip. In doing some research, I discovered that the phrase might have come from John Behervaise's book, Thirty-six Years of Seafaring Life by an Old Quarter Master, originally published in 1839 and reissued by Cambridge University Press in 2015. (If this manuscript landed on my desk, I'd push for its publication.) The story is one, big get-over-it maritime journey. Before Behervaise joined the Royal Navy, he'd spent a grueling winter in Newfoundland among Native Americans, did a stent in a debtor's prison, and was captured by privateers. I haven't read the book, but supposedly, he used the phrase in regards to an amputation-not sure if it was on him or someone else.
My point is, when writing fiction, you don't want to make things easy for your characters. You want to put them in situations where they have to "get over it" and move on. By getting over it, I don't mean things becoming rosy, or the character rocking along until another problem occurs. What I mean is the character survives by the skin of her teeth, only to face another major obstacle, then another survival situation, obstacle, and so on. And each situation has to be worse than the last with survival seeming impossible each time.
Tie this to my book review of American Dirt (again, scroll down). The author, Jeanine Cummins, keeps her character, Lydia Quixano Pérez, in constant danger starting from page one. Getting over it for Lydia always seems impossible, but the alternative means she and her eight-year-old son, Luca, will be murdered by a drug cartel.
I'm starting a new historical novel by making a list of horrible things that could happen to my protagonist. (A desert jackal figures into the picture.) This is new for me. I usually just start writing and see what happens.
I'll keep you posted.