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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Search Of a Personality

Characters come in my head, talk to me, let me get to know them, and I write their stories. They're not always cooperative. I've had them lie to me, refuse to talk, stonewall me, and a bunch of other maneuvers, but I've always gotten around them. I've never had a character hold back their personality--until the Work In Progress (WIP).

The book opens in the hero's Point of View (POV) and he didn't give me any problems, but my heroine! I wrote and rewrote her scene over and over and over and it was bland. Boring. She displayed absolutely no personality. Liza was this cardboard cutout moving around, but not feeling anything, not reacting much to anything and generally making me insane.

I went forward in time and wrote a prologue in her POV. As it turned out, it was a pivotal moment in Liza's existence, the thing that shaped who she is today. It was absolutely invaluable to know what lurked in her past, but who she was back then isn't who she is now and it didn't help with her personality.

I ended up cutting the prologue. It was unnecessary and all it was really good for was showing me what shaped Liza. It just wasn't anything a reader needed to see up front.

And I continued to write and rewrite the scene in chapter 1 from Liza's POV. Still nothing. No personality and it was frustrating the hell out of me. I'd rather have a character lie to me than have them hide who they are. I'm still not sure why she did it, but I did know one thing about her: She doesn't like interacting with humans.

Finally, in a move that was sheer desperation on my part, I backed up her scene. Not much, probably less than half an hour, but it put her in a situation where she was surrounded by humans and in a nightclub yet. She was not having a good time. And she was unhappy enough that she stopped hiding from me. As I wrote, her personality showed up on the page. At last!

I've decided that it's my job in this story to keep her in situations that have her grumbling. I torture them because they torture me, and Liza deserves it!