A few blocks from my house is a 6 lane thoroughfare. Sometimes, when I'm idling at a red light at one of the crossroads, I watch the cars traveling north and south and wonder, where is everyone going? Restaurants, banks, grocery, liquor and home improvement stores, dry cleaners; just about any business you can think of is on this thoroughfare. Are people going to eat? Shop? Withdraw cash at the ATM? And where are they going afterward? Some place exciting? Or are they going home like me? What are they going to do when they get home? Make dinner? Throw a load of laundry into the machine? Which reminds me, I have to fill the dog's water bowl. It's next to the washing machine. Then I have to return a dish to a neighbor. Pick up the kiddo from school. Make dinner. And then my television shows are on. Let's see, tonight is Wednesday, which means I get to go to be early and then, tomorrow….
You get the idea—one thought leads to another, and before you know it, you've either worked your way back to your original thought or strayed way off topic, like I usually do. Watching CBS's primetime lineup has nothing to do with being stopped at a red light. But that's how my mind travels, and how I like to sometimes allow my characters' minds to travel.
In Debra's Bandit, Gage was certain he knew Emmit Kessler, but couldn't recall from where. It wasn't until I allowed Gage a short reprieve from his original problem that he figured out Kessler's identity. His line of thought went something like: Kessler mentioned something about his brother being killed. But I didn't kill him. I'm sure of. I only killed three people, and I know every one of them. But I did steal from a lot of folks, and places. Had to in order to survive. So did Roth, and the others in Roth's gang. The last bank we robbed a posse was on our trail before we cleared the outskirts of town. I high-tailed it to Mexico. Laid low for a while. Worked my way back to the states, to Roth and Debra. Found out they were holed up in Tucson. Roth had been shot in that robbery and Debra had…..
I won't spoil the rest. I will say that getting inside a character's mind and giving his/her thoughts free rein so he/she can work through a problem is fun and rewarding. Fun, because I'm someone else for a while. Rewarding, because I've progressed the plot of the story, not with heart-pumping action, but on an emotional level the reader can relate to and sympathize with. Having my readers feel some connection to my characters is as important to me as developing a great storyline.