“No one can teach riding so well as a horse.” –C.S. Lewis
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Two years ago this month, I wrote my first guest post for the Kill Zone Blog, and I will be forever grateful to Debbie Burke for offering me that opportunity. Later that year, I became a regular contributor, and I have loved the experience so much, I thought I’d celebrate this anniversary by re-posting that first article.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I liked writing it.
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It was a day for speed. A wind-at-your-back, smile-on-your-face day when a youthful gallop overruled frumpy caution, so we barreled down the dirt trail into the park and around a blind turn. As the bushes on our right gave way and the road ahead came into view, a terrifying specter suddenly loomed up in the middle of the trail, no more than fifty yards in front of us.
Dixie, my high-strung, prone-to-panic filly, slammed on the brakes. I had no idea a horse could stop like that. Two stiff-legged hops – thump, thump — to a dead halt.
I went straight over her head. Turns out an English forward seat saddle is particularly ill-suited for sudden deer sightings.
As I was flying through the air, anticipating an unpleasant reacquaintance with Mother Earth, Dixie began some kind of crazy cha-cha in reverse, trying to flee the tiny deer creature. I was still holding on to the reins, however, so she couldn’t turn and run. Instead, she made a determined dart backward, dragging me along in her wake.
You might be wondering why I didn’t just let go of the reins and save myself from a mouthful of dirt and a painful awareness of my sudden change in circumstances. I’ll be honest with you. I would have let my horse drag me into the next county before I allowed her to return riderless to the barn. I have my pride, you know.
Body-surfing down a dirt trail at the whim of a frightened animal is an excellent way to focus one’s mind. I’m older now, but sometimes I still get that urge to gallop furiously into the next adventure, no matter what form it takes. But when I recall that day in the park, the awful taste of grit in my mouth, the look of terror in Dixie’s eyes, and the acrid scent of fear in the air, I pull back the reins on my emotions and proceed at a deliberate trot.
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Whether dramatic or not, we each have a set of experiences that have transformed the way we view the world. Likewise, we all know the characters we write about must change from the beginning of the story to the end. Whether the arc is positive or negative, the change must be meaningful.
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So TKZers: Tell us about a character in one of your novels that went through a metamorphosis. Was it a dramatic, once-in-a-lifetime experience? Or a slow coming to grips with reality over the course of the story? How did you accomplish the change in a way that would grab your readers?
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Cece Goldman reluctantly faces her fear of horses and learns to ride in Dead Man’s Watch. She learns a few other things about herself along the way.