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  • MJ Carter

Lost and Found

I've long had a theory that readers lose themselves in a story, and writers - often unknowingly - find themselves spelled out on the page as clear as day.

Unless another inspiration is in mind, writers often lend their own experiences and dreams to their characters. My latest story, an ensemble Christmas comedy, offered several cast members I could impart my wisdom, or lack thereof, to. But with leads in their late twenties, and some comical characters well over eighty, I wasn't relating to any of my 'players' in particular. Not relating, I must admit, made my writing a bit of a chore.

But then, as I neared the end of the first draft, a minor character jumped out at me. Her name was Connie, and I had made her a sister of a secondary lead in the story. Connie was a bookstore owner and completely non-descript. I believe she had three spoken lines by page 265. All that changed in an instant. I asked myself if I played Connie, what would I do with the role? My imagination soared.

So, back to chapter two I went. Connie became that secondary lead's wife. His name was Jeff Martin, a real estate lawyer and supporter of the arts due to Connie's love of community theater. The theme of my comedy focused around a small-town mayor allowing big-time Hollywood to take over a beloved annual production of A Christmas Carol. I had Connie call a meeting of the Liberty Falls Players to decide what could be done. Whenever a crisis took over the reins, Connie was there to grab them back. She even got a shining moment at the end. I don't want to dish out any great reveals. However, let it be said that Connie Martin got to rock the pages of this story, and I loved living all her adventures through her.

While Connie was driven by my mental energy, she wasn't my physical twin. I'm much older than Connie Martin, and even if I reeled back my own years, I wasn't bold enough looking for my take on the character. The perfect doppelganger for the task immediately came to mind. Actress Jennifer Saunders in the Ab Fab years. Who better to illustrate a woman of theatrically crazy ideas? So, thank you, Jennifer Saunders, for helping to make a once minor character into a star.

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