Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Specter I Dread

by Michael Molloy

I recently read a contemporary romance novel called AN AFFINITY FOR SHADOWS, written by fellow Gypsy Shadow Publishing author Liz R. Newman. It was a very entertaining book, which followed the exploits and loves of heroine Kate Theodore, and even garnered good reviews from places such as the Huffington Post. And while I would recommend Liz’s book to anyone, there was a glaring page I saw at the back end. It concerned itself with questions readers had for Liz about Kate that were left unanswered, at least from their viewpoint. I think it’s a matter of being too picayune with the comments, and I am usually quick to defend a writer I know personally. But they are assertions nonetheless. And it’s these biting barbs of bluster that taunt every writer to no end.

I can get into my car, turn on my GPS navigational system, and get step-by-step directions to my destination. But when it comes to writing, there is no such device to help me. Where’s that seductive female voice to lead me? I am out there alone to figure which way my characters go, and that can be daunting. In the work I’m writing now, SADISTIC PATTERN, I am at a crossroads in what to do with one of my secondary characters, Siobhan O’Mara. To what degree do I keep her entangled with the main character Roger Lavoie? To what extent do I make her just as sinister as Roger? These are agonizing questions that pitchfork me. And then if I decide where to direct Siobhan, will I get criticized for what I did to the character? Does anybody have any bromide out there?

There are many of us who fall prey to the behemoth that lurks to carve us up, that ogre that wishes to devour our brains thus rendering us helpless. We can turn to friends, family members, and even other writers for advice, but ultimately it comes down to us. I can’t read you’re your mind any better than you can read mine. We created these characters and must learn to deal with them. If you bring the ingredients for the meal, you’d better know how to make it. And then there’s a follow-up question to this madness: How well do we really know our characters? Oh, tell me I didn’t ask that question!

Outlines help, but there will always be that lingering what if moment you can leave out there. There is no solid answer to this dilemma. We writers must forge on and say to heck with the critics out there, and learn to cope with his muddled conundrum that continues to eat at us from the inside out. But this will always remain my personal bugaboo.

A graduate of St. John's University, Michael's writing career was influenced by one of his former high school English teachers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt. With a self-published book to credit, Michael's latest mainstream romance novel THE DIAMOND MAN is slated to be released this fall via Gypsy Shadow Publishing ( Not resting on his laurels, Michael is well into his next book, a suspense novel called SADISTIC PATTERN, with other planned romance works and thrillers down the road.


  1. I too, Michael, will admit to suffering those moments when you pick up your pen, look down at the paper and ..... nothing. I'm not an outliner (generally a pantster), but when I find myself just plain stuck, that's when I try and do a little more of the plotting/outlining to sort of rev my motor?

  2. Michael--I know that moment when you are flushed with excitement over your outline, when you have all your characters figured out and then suddenly they take over and surprise you. It's a bit scary but also exciting. And, it think that's when great writing happens. Enjoy it.

  3. The Native NYer is Maria Ferrer. :-)

  4. Love this post, Michael. I have a secondary character in a potential series I'm not sure what to do with ultimately either--do I redeem him or send him all the way down the sinister rabbit hole. Either way, there will be some readers mad at me for the choice. And I'm not looking forward
    To making that decision. But you're right, we just have to get on with it and be true to the character. Scary, though! :)