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The Fickle Protagonist

Oh dearie me, it’s been forever since I last posted. I got busy writing for Camp NaNo, and then I got interrupted by… more writing. Let’s just say that I did a ton of writing during the Camp NaNoWriMo month, but not all of it was for my story. Thus, I technically reached 50,000 words but didn’t finish the actual writing challenge. A girls gotta pay the bills, so I’m not terribly bummed.

The writing challenge did, however, allow me to better understand my main character who has been elusive and silent for many writing sessions.

Me: Excuse me, but can you please tell me who you are? I’m trying to write a book about you, you see, and it’s really hard to do that when all I know is that you’re female… you are female, right? If you’re not, that’s fine, but I’d really like to know what’s going on in that head of yours. How old are you, what’s your favorite color… Do you prefer Captain Crunch or Fruity Pebbles?

Main Character: ………………….

Perhaps I’m asking too much of them too soon, hmmm? My main character has warmed up to me a little bit more since our first encounter. Thank goodness because they were starting to seem as flat as a generic teen romance’s female protagonist. Meanwhile, the world was building up around my main character into something very interesting, but it could only go so far with a leading lady who refused to do anything.

What really helped me out was to stop worrying about what was going to happen next and to focus more on my MC’s past. You’d think that I would have done this before, but no. Without it, she was an obscure, blah character who had no real reason to be liked by her fellow characters, let alone the audience (*cough* Bella Swan *cough*). Now, I can’t particularly say that I know something as specific as her career at this point but I at least know what careers are out of the question, and which ones are most likely with her personality. And, there is no way she is going to be a depressed, angsty teenager like she was kind of becoming in the beginning. *shudders*

Well, toodles. Until next time.

Do you ever have trouble with your characters? Please share. Rant and give advice. It’s much appreciated.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Life, Writing

 

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Think, Think, Think

I feel a little like Shia Labeouf’s character in Disturbia sometimes. I’m not under house arrest — even if I did anything that could result in that, I wouldn’t get caught, pah! 😉 — but I’ve been spying on my neighbors. You would too if strange things were happening across the street. Trucks in and out of the gates, police cars, noises at night, moving vans, etc. It’s a situation just begging me to concoct wild ideas.

The house now appears empty, but you never know…

One of these days I’m going to wake up to discover that a strange family has moved into the house overnight. They’ll keep to themselves and they’ll have a large black dog that sits at the gate and just stares at you, curling its lip while it growls viciously. I’m sure they’ve made a few slasher movies like that.

I should probably talk about writing, eh? What I really want to talk about is the thinking you do before you put a pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or typewriter, or chisel to stone. Whatever your preference. Some like to dive head first into a story, deciding that they’ll figure out the twists and turns along the way. Others might find that this sort of method simply takes them in circles and into dead ends. I’m one of those people, to be honest.

Instead, I spend a lot of time thinking about the story, though mostly my thoughts dwell on the characters. I’ve always had the habit of “figuring out” people, and I do the same with many of the characters that pop into my head. I might as well be sitting across a table from them, going “hmmm” and “aha”. 

I feel, however, that if I can understand the character better I can then understand their motivation and the sort of situation they might find themselves in for a story. Even though occasionally I have a scene come to mind that I desperately want to write, sometimes I have to put it aside for another time when I find that the characters I currently have don’t have the motivation to see them through. I might as well be trying to make a jellyfish walk, if I tried to force the wrong character into the wrong situation.

Thinking over the situation, the characters and the story before you actually start writing it can help tie up loose ends too and make the writing process easier in the end. It’s much like editing in that sense. You can kind of think of it as making mental mark-ups and notes.

And there we go, something about writing. I do have to mention that the thinking part before the writing can sometimes be troublesome. I more often than not get my head stuck in the clouds when I’m around other people and, while I’m thinking about a character or plot, those around me want to talk instead. (The audacity!) So, they’ll strike up a conversation while I’m still half out of it.

I know, I know, it wouldn’t hurt to be more social and in the moment. Therefore, I suggest finding time to be alone while you think. And, screw up your face in deep concentration if you have to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mentally busy with a story, only to have someone interrupt because they thought I wasn’t doing anything. If you have to, say you’re really tired and go take a “nap”. Even if you do fall asleep, at least you won’t likely be interrupted. Dreams can be inspirational too.

So, keep on writing, even if it’s just in your head for a while. I’m going to go think now…

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Books, Life, Writing

 

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