Round Robin, a monthly writing promptThis month’s Round Robin asks whether or not I am ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are my characters to me?

I don’t know if I’m emotionally drained, but I find that after I’ve finished a scene, I’m done for the day. It’s almost as if my brain turns off and refuses to work past that scene, like it needs to refuel. It doesn’t matter if I still want to write; my brain won’t cooperate. Perhaps I’m not a real writer. Or maybe I need to push through those moments. There’re so many shiny distractions, though.

When my characters are speaking to me, they are very real. Their breath is my breath; their thoughts are my thoughts. But when I have to ask, “Okay… what’s next?” that’s when they become obstinate and refuse to talk to me. I’m currently at one of those impasses.

Here is a recent scene from my WIP:

“We cannot focus on the past. We can only move forward,” he said.

“You are fine with having killed a man?” she asked him.

His arm tightened around her shoulders, and his breath hitched. “No, but I had no choice. He was going to shoot you and Aynur.” He pulled away and studied her. Their gazes collided. “Should I have let him?”

She looked down at the dirt and shook her head. He had saved her life. Did she think less of him because he killed a man to do so? No. She’d had to attack the soldier. There’d been no choice—at least, not a viable one. Just as she’d protected herself against the cannibal and fled the village. Would her parents still be alive if they’d turned her and Bao over to the officer and his men? In her heart, Xué knew those men would’ve killed the village anyway. Could she kill again if she had to?

She shuddered. Better to avoid the soldiers all together.

Looking around the cave, she wondered how their large group would manage. Even broken up into smaller groups, they’d run into them… in a snowstorm where they shouldn’t have been. Who would send men out on a night like that? If they’d been captured, how would they have brought them in? None of it made sense.

A commotion at the entrance of the cave drew her attention. Aynur and his second dragged a blue sheep between them. Chang and Huan, the two bear shifters, joined them and carried the kill to the back where they would skin and prepare the meat. The two wolves trotted into the darkness, returning a few minutes later in human form.

Xué’s stomach grumbled. It would be several hours yet before they would eat. She stood. Perhaps she could help them prepare the sheep.

“Are you all right?” Bao asked.

She looked down at him and shrugged. “I will be.” She paused. “I have to be.”

Concern etched a frown in his forehead and darkened the silver of his eyes into pewter.

“I’m going to see if Chang and Huan need my help,” she said, ending the conversation.


She turned.


Without facing him, she stopped.

“We will survive this and find peace. I promise.”

Nodding, she walked away. He’d made a promise he couldn’t keep, thinking she’d feel better. She didn’t. Only escaping Mao’s long reach and setting up their own place far from danger would she feel safe enough to believe his lie. Even then, she didn’t know if peace would ever find her.

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