I’ve been wondering why I find it a bit easier to write a John Howard novel than one featuring Salem Matthews. I don’t prefer one over the other. I love all my characters, even the evil ones. All right, especially the evil ones.
There’s no deviation in the quality of the storytelling or the writing between the two series. At least none that I can see. Actually, it’s easier for me to enter a Salem Matthews book ( you can’t write a decent novel about anything without entering the story and writing from the inside out ). But once I’m inside, it gets hard. The words tend to trickle rather than flow.
John Howard is a rancher and retired two time national rodeo champion. I am neither.
Salem Matthews is a retired Special Forces combat veteran, the owner of a campground, the operator of two successful general stores, and a wealthy man. I am none of those things.
So, what is it…why is it easier for me to get inside John Howard’s head?
I think it’s age. John Howard is old. I’m old. More importantly, several of the primary characters in this series – John, Sarah Jane, Jupiter Campbell, Buck Timmons, and Robert Falls – are old. The only old character in the Salem Matthews series is Bo Carson. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Bo is one of my favorites.
Let me be clear. I can write characters of almost any age because I’ve already lived that portion of my life. I’ve been through it. Writing a scene is part imagination, part creativity, and part memory. With the exception of Bo Carson, I have to search my memory when writing scenes for a Salem Matthews book. Would I have done this or said this when I was thirty, or forty, or fifty? Could I have done it? Would or could this character do it at his or her age? I have to search my memory and trust what I find.
It’s easier when I’m writing a character that’s just a year older than me (Bo Carson) or two years younger (John Howard). I don’t have to remember what that age was like because I’m living it. I can write these scenes with confidence and enthusiasm. The best part is I’ll grow old along with Bo, John, Jupiter, Sarah Jane, and the rest of the gang. Can’t beat that.