As I mention on my All About Me page, I have an obsession with numbers, specifically three, five, and ten, and if I’m being honest, the ten is only in the list because I need there to be at least three items. This often presents me with some interesting problems when I’m working on a book. Although I’ve noticed it also adds a few interesting quirks to my writing as well.
It is often apparent in the choices I make as my story unfolds, and most frequently it is completely subconscious. I don’t even know I’m doing it until I look for it in my drafts. Today I noticed that with my book Killer Therapy (working title) I have given the main character two siblings, a brother and a sister, and both of her parents are alive. Her brother is married with a baby on the way, her sister is engaged, and there is an additional member of the family that I won’t mention here to avoid spoiling my book for any of you that are interested in reading it. Broken down, that means that there are five members of her primary family unit, her brother’s family has three people in it, and counting her sister’s fiancé and the mystery character, there are nine people in her family that I write about in the book. I also noticed that in my book Road Trip (also a working title) the main character’s family consists of a father and two boys. I chose to have the mother abandon her family before the story begins.
Now those of you who don’t have OCD may be thinking that I am drawing inaccurate conclusions, or straining to make it fit, but the ones who have OCD, particularly writers, I think you can probably relate. Writing isn’t just about putting words on a page, it’s about pouring your heart and soul onto the paper, and you have to feel it. Preforming rituals and giving in to your compulsions feels good. It feels right. So when I’m writing a story and I feel like there should be another character, I can’t honestly tell you if that character is in the book because my writer’s instinct told me they needed to be there, or if I needed the character in there because my OCD demanded it.
Because I know about my quirk with numbers, I try very hard to make sure that anything in my books that has a number attached to it has a reason to be that number besides my OCD, and if it doesn’t I’ll try and change it. After all, very rarely in life do we see anything having the same numbers over and over again unless it is designed to be that way, and I want to suspend disbelief, not induce it. So when I made the main character from Killer Therapy thirty, I thought to myself, “Why does she need to be thirty?” Obviously she needed to be old enough to have completed the required schooling to get her degrees, but I also wanted to make her young enough that she would have a long life as a serial killer ahead of her. So why not make her thirty seven, or forty two? I didn’t have a good answer for that, so I made her thirty one, which, despite making me a little crazy, I think is a bit more realistic. Conversely, when I decided to make the main character in Road Trip eighteen, I had a good reason. He has just been released from a juvenile detention center at the start of the book, so I kept it.
For the most part I’m happy with my obsession over numbers, it helps with a lot of things. For example I rarely loose count of stitches when I crochet because I always have a running tally in my head. It can be frustrating, though, too. When I’m watching TV with my husband and he adjusts the volume I am almost always adjusting it right after because the numbers need to be right, but he puts up with my too loud watching of the TV, and I try to not see the numbers when he changes the volume, so we make it work.
Anyway, that’s all I have for you today. As always feel free to comment or ask questions, and thank you for reading!