Sunday, March 30, 2014

Showing the Effect of a Breakup on a Character

In writing my novel Star Time or Star Time (Kindle), I wanted to depict the effect of a love affair's breakup on my female protagonist, the TV reporter Chris Paskins, after her lover tells he has decided to marry another woman. Recovery isn't slow, and it isn't easy.

Here’s an excerpt:

No loss in her life had ever struck so hard at Chris as losing Greg. She had warily opened her heart only to have it ransacked. She had trusted Greg and had loved him totally, and he had betrayed her totally. He loved me, she silently keened over and over. I can't believe he didn't love me.

At times she despised Greg because he had left her despite having loved her, and at other times because she was convinced he had lied about loving her and had used her from the very first. Sometimes, though, she told herself he had fled because he had found nothing in her worth loving, and then she despised herself.

She reached out to a few women friends for companionship, but became so submerged in her despondency that she forgot a Saturday lunch she had scheduled with one and a date to go shopping with another. Abjectly apologetic each time, she begged their forgiveness on the phone and ran out to purchase lavish gifts to be delivered immediately.

Only to Marian Marcus, though, did Chris open up to confide her grief and the reason for it. She had assumed, she told Marian, that she and Greg would spend their lives together—she had wanted to spend her life with him. Living together, she had always believed, was a prelude to marriage. They had argued, but always because their work put pressures on the relationship, never because of what they felt for each other. The one thing she had always been sure about was that Greg loved her.

She had feared his going to New York because it would separate them, not because she ever thought he might desert her. Never once had he mentioned the other woman, only her father. Recalling all the canceled trips, Chris suspected he had been seeing this Diane for months and had lied about his reasons for postponing trips back to L.A. Although knowing that she valued honesty above all other values, he had lied to her. Had he been lying when he said that he loved her?

During those harrowing days, Marian ceased to be Chris's assistant and truly became a friend who cared about her, listening for hours and offering solace as Chris talked out her feelings of sorrow, often sleeping over on the sofa at her apartment just so Chris would not be alone. The friendship that had begun with Marian's outlandish confidences became cemented for life during that bleak time.

That first weekend, Marian insisted Chris accompany her to dinner and a movie. Chris was too preoccupied with her loss to concentrate on the film, and instead they drove for hours and talked. She rode horseback alone in the hills the next day. Her sorrow lurked in ambush behind every tree and in every gully.

Soon, however, Chris began to fight the despondency by losing herself in her work, the only lover she still trusted not to betray her. A workaholic and ambitious before, she became possessed; reporting became her only faith and ascension in her profession her hope for salvation from despair. Much of what used to be her free time was spent perusing stacks of photocopied public records and tracking down potential informers who might be more willing away from their offices to give her leads.

Chris even welcomed the outrage that abandonment by Greg aroused in her because it allowed her to close off her mind and heart to everything but work. She yearned to hurt him as painfully as she had been hurt and felt purified by the primeval rawness of her hatred. But her feelings flowed deeper and wider than retaliation against one man. Not only would her determination to succeed bring her personal fulfillment, but also vindication against everyone throughout her life who had ever tried to block her progress. Her influence would increase with her popularity, she knew, and would safeguard her independence.

She was as zealous to safeguard her emotions. Never again would she expose them to the ravages that dependence on another's love could cause.

Read more: Star Time or Star Time (Kindle).

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