Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

The Comeback Kids

60 Comments

Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.   ~  Eleanor Roosevelt

During my college years, I met many wonderful people. Some remain good friends today, while others drifted out of my life when the semester ended. Despite the fact that we didn’t stay in touch, many left a lasting impression. I often think about them and wonder where they are and how their lives turned out.

Last year I wrote a short story that was published in Southern Writers Magazine. Since then, I haven’t been able to get the characters out of my head. I spent a lot of imaginative energy creating and understanding my characters. As soon as I figured them out, it was time to leave them behind. The time spent together felt abbreviated. I find myself longing to know them better.

I believe both my protagonist and antagonist have secrets from their past. I want to delve into their lives. These characters don’t deserve to be short story heroes. Their lives are complicated and filled with twists and turns that I long to bring to life.

My goal is to turn this short story into a novel that is so tightly constructed each chapter could stand on its own. There will be no extraneous plot exposition and no wasted words. My plan is to bring these characters back into my life during the month of November when I participate in my third NaNoWriMo challenge. The one thing I plan to do differently is to outline. I’ve never outlined any of my writing, but I want to know these characters inside and out before I begin to tell their story. I’m excited to see what happens.

As a writer or a reader, do characters ever take up residence in your mind long after the story has ended?

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, will release in March, 2017. It's now able for pre-order on Amazon. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

60 thoughts on “The Comeback Kids

  1. Ooh, can’t wait to read your novel!!

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  2. Simple answer to your question is yes as a reader; my novel is still undergoing changes so my characters are all still with me. A miscellany of Thomas Hardy characters seem particularly happy inhabiting a small hamlet in my head!

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    • Ah, Tess and Angel still remain in my head so many years after my high school literature class. Even Stuart Little comes into my mind now and then. 🙂 Good luck with your novel, Lynne. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  3. I love your concept for your novel, Jill. Look forward to reading it one day. In response to your question, a most emphatic YES! I’ve spent so much time getting to know each character my family understands when I talk about them as if they were real. I believe friendships are like love. You always have enough room in your life for more. Happy weekend. 🙂

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    • I had a feeling your characters live with you and your family, Jolyse! I feel the same way about friendships and I’m thankful I found you through blogging! I loved your daughter’s recent post on Italy; she’s such a cutie. Enjoy the weekend!

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  4. Heck yeah! I have characters from books I’ve read from years ago still living in my brain! A really good book makes me want to learn more about a character than was represented in the story…I love deep books. Shallow ones entertain, but well developed characters and plots enlighten and enrich me!

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    • That’s so true! A well developed character stays in my mind long after I read the last page. While reading, when I find myself trying to make the book last longer or wishing for a sequel, the author has done their job in my opinion. Have a great weekend!

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  5. When I can relate to the character, he/she definitely stays with me for a long time and the character becomes a live person in my mind. Jill, I would love to read the short story from the magazine. Do you have a link to that?? Good for you for starting your outline for the NaNoWriMo – outlines are so tough to do!!! How exciting!

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    • Same here, Maria. I still think about characters I read in books as a child.

      I hate outlining! Bad memories from high school and college, I suppose. 🙂 I’ve always let the story come to me as I write, but after hearing so many writer’s proclaim the benefits of outlining, I thought it’s time to give it a try.

      I actually had two stories published in Southern Writers Magazine; one last year and one this year. Unfortunately, they don’t publish the stories on line unless you have a subscription to the print or online magazine. I can e-mail you the stories if you’d like. Funny, I still get nervous when people read my writing. 🙂

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  6. Indeed, they do! Characters live on and on…

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  7. I may be the only one in my writing critique group that has not taken on the NaNoWriMo challenge. Last year I got very close by seriously considering it. I am inspired by your third go at it and your early commitment to it – no decision to make on Sept 30. Now I am super seriously considering it! Thanks, Jill!

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    • Great news, Shel! I hope you decide to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. At the end of 30 days, you’ll have the start of an extremely rough draft of your novel. For whatever reason, once I commit to doing it, I’ve always met the challenge by the end of November. After that, some days I’m lucky to write 50 words. 🙂 I hope you go for it!

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  8. My characters tend to slosh around in my head before I start writing, then once I do they become real and I can see them. I have two (sisters) who have each had a short monologue and who I hope will return to tell us more about their lives. It’s all in my head, just need time and determination to get them down on paper!

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    • I see my characters as well, Jenny! Sometimes when I’m really into the characters, I feel as though I’m playing a part in their story. Good luck getting the sister’s story down on paper…in between Wimbledon, of course!

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  9. This is a terrific plan, Jill. With the contest still months away, you’ll have this time to concentrate on your characters, spend time with them individually and collectively, and really get to know them. And the interesting thing about this process–or so I’ve found–is that when I spend time in advance with my characters, when the time comes they know me, too, and we work together so much better!

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    • LOL! It’s nice when your characters cooperate. In the past, about one month before NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a setting and a couple of characters, but no idea where the story will go and come November 1, I just write.

      I’m looking forward to a different strategy. As you said, I’ll have plenty of time to get to know the characters in depth. I hope you plan to participate as well, Marylin. Enjoy the weekend!

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  10. This is a great plan, Jill. Yes – my characters stay with me forever and sometimes I really miss them 😦

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    • Thanks, Dianne! I’m the same way when it comes to missing my characters after their story is complete. Thanks to you and your generosity, I’ll get to meet some of your characters in your book of short stories! I’m looking forward to reading them. Have a great weekend!

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  11. I have, for years, wanted to write in the voice of a high school student who uses unnecessarily lengthy words and forms all kinds of sociobiological theories about why he is (at least in his view) being excluded by the other kids. And now, he has pestered me into submission, because I’m finally bringing him to life. I guess he technically came to live in my head before the story even started.

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    • He sounds like a very interesting character, Chris. I’m glad you’ve decided to tell his story. I’m the same way. I’ve had a character, a young girl off to her first year in college, who’s been in and out of my head for the past year. I think soon, her story must to be told. Good luck with the story and keep me posted on your progress. Enjoy your weeknd!

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  12. Simply can’t wait to read your novel Jill, I know all the characters would be wonderfully described and I would lose myself in them. You are so right some characters leave such an impression on your mind that they never seem to go out of your mind. Tess, and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina are two of those I cannot take out of my mind. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post. Best wishes for your NaNoWriMo contest and for your novel.

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    • Thank you, Samina ~ you’re so sweet! I might have to model one of my characters after you. 🙂 Oh yes, Anna Karenina, she’s another character who gets into your mind and you can’t forget her. Have a wonderful weekend, Samina!

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      • WoW! Thanks Jill I feel honored. You will do great justice to your characters. Sorry for the late reply. I was doing awards. I have sent you nomination (no rules). It is a very tiresome job and I am so tired right now. Talk to you later and have a wonderful weekend. Take care.

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      • Your award is well deserved, Samina! I agree, they are a lot of work. I hope you got some rest and you enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Thank you so much for my award!

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      • Thanks so much Jill and all the awards are yours with the condition of no rules. I don’t like the burden of rules as such we all have writing to do for our posts. I will change this culture of rules one day I think I have already done that and people are so happy about it. No still I haven’t rested. Too many remarks to answer and new people had to be guided what they had to do. Thank you for your concern it made me feel so good and I will take some rest now after a little while. Enjoy the weekends Jill. Will talk later my best friend.

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      • I love the awards with no rules, Samina! As you said, we’re all busy working, writing, blogging and responding to awards with rules is extremely time consuming. Take care of yourself and rest!

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      • I agree with you Jill. No one has criticized me since I kept no rules. Everyone including yourself are happy and I think people are realising the too much work with rules. This was a good start to change the rules. Award should bring honor and pleasure not more work. Thanks Jill I will definitely take some break. Take care.

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  13. My own characters never leave me. They continue to beg to tell me more of their secrets. Hard to turn them off. 😉 As a reader, there are many, many characters that still live in my mind and in my heart. I love your idea of having each chapter stand alone. I don’t believe I’ve read a novel like that before. But it’s an interesting concept. Having to space out my reading time, it would be great to be able to finish a chapter and feel satisfied before returning later to delve into the next. I’ll be checking back to see how this works for you. 🙂

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    • You’re right, Elizabeth, it can be hard to turn off our characters. I’ve even had a character make an occasional appearance in my dreams.

      Like you, sometimes my available time to read can be sporadic. I’d like to write something that has a subtle arc in each chapter, but of course it would be part of the overall arc of the novel to prevent an episodic tone.

      I’m wondering if you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  14. sometimes but not often
    Terry

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    • That’s cool, Terry. I guess you read or write about a character and when you’re done, you’re ready to move on. Enjoy your weekend!

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      • I would suggest that you are probably a better writer than I. The ‘characters’ I do hang on to are ‘George and Harry’ but that is because we go way back. They are multi species characters and used to pop up in the stories I told to my boys. They live on now in stories I write for my grandchildren.
        I enjoyed your post; it made me think….. which hurt a bit, but that’s OK.
        Terry

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      • LOL! I love that George and Harry live on in stories you write for your grandchildren; such a special gift for them.

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  15. Wow! Love this! Glad you’re going for it. Your characters deserve their moments in the sun.

    Jill, I’m with you here. I’m writing three novels with characters I’d never planned to write about. I finished one of them. She was an extremely minor character in a novel that never went anywhere. I was scrambling to find a story to submit for a workshop at my grad school. I pulled her out of obscurity and learned all about her as I wrote her story. In that story, I mentioned a character who was not going to exist past the second chapter. My advisor saw potential in him. He became the love interest and now has his own novel.

    The third character talked himself out of a one chapter appearance in the same novel that went nowhere. He popped into my head and didn’t want to leave. I’m still working on his novel.

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    • Thanks, L. Marie! I think that’s so cool your advisor saw potential in your minor character and now he has his own novel! That’s what makes writing so fun; we can do whatever we want with any character. Good luck to you! Enjoy the weekend!

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  16. My last protagonist Tess (not Durbeyfield !) will only leave me when I create another. Outlining, writing first draft by hand – I’m going to adopt these practices soon. And I’ll be first in the queue for your novel Jill.

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  17. The exact same thing happened to me. I wrote a short story for a contest but the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. It ended up turning into my novel. Sometimes you have to go back to the characters you love and let them tell more of their story. 🙂

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  18. I still feel bad that my hero and heroine didn’t end up together and the end of my first manuscript, which I wrote in 2008.

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  19. Jill, best wishes with your novel! Some characters have taken up real estate in my heart:-)

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  20. Jill, I would imagine most fiction writers experience something like this. When I burned out on my novel, I realized it was due to my failure to plan. Even though the project has been shelved for about a year, the characters are still with me, and they’re often on my mind. I have a playlist on my iPod dedicated to them, so I can think about them when I run (kooky, right?) My hope is the same – that I’ll return to them able to tell their complete story. Like you, I learned the hard way that planning is my key to success. If I wasn’t enrolled in a writing course right now, I’d plan to do November NaNo with you! But between work, kids and the writing course, I know that would be biting off more than I could chew. How do you work NaNo into your life with a full time job?

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    • Having a playlist on your iPod isn’t “kooky” at all, Gwen. I do the same thing while on the treadmill. 🙂

      I would love to participate in NaNo with you, Gwen, but I completely understand your time restrictions. What I love the most about NaNo is once I commit, I finish no matter what. The only way I can meet the challenge is by breaking my daily word count down to 1667 words per day. I make sure I never fall behind and on the weekends I do bonus words so I’m not frantically trying to meet my word count after work. It’s extremely stressful, but it keeps me writing.

      I hope by planning and outlining this year, I won’t be so mean and grumpy during the month of November…we’ll see. 🙂

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  21. Pingback: 2 Awards – MOI? | Traces of the Soul

  22. This project sounds intriguing, Jill. Best of luck!

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