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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

This Is Why I Torture Them

I blogged recently about getting to know my heroine. I thought I was on the right track, but realized that I wasn't seeing clearly enough. So I've been spending time recently trying to unravel what makes the heroine in my Work In Progress (WIP) tick. Who--exactly--is she?

From the beginning, it's been the hero who's talked and shared. I've seen scenes from his Point of View (POV) and I feel as if I know him pretty well. I always learn more stuff as I actually write in the character's head, but that's normal.

The scenes the hero showed me have the heroine in them and I thought I knew her because of this. And because I had facts about her, but as I've started to write the first scene in her POV, I've decided that I don't know her quite well enough.

When I write something a character won't do, they dig their heels in and won't let me write further. It's kind of a pain, but I'm not going to complain about it. I complained once about not being able to name my characters myself and then I had a heroine who made me come up with her name without any help. I decided that was a curse. It's much easier when they say, "My name starts with an R." ;-)

Anyway, I've been writing this scene in Zo's head and got stuck. Totally, completely, utterly stuck. You'd think after all this time that the first thing I'd do is think, wow, I messed up and should figure out what's out of character. That's not what happens. I console myself with the fact that at least this time I thought of it without someone else telling me. Sadly, usually it's one of my writing buddies who says, um, hey, I don't think she'd do this. Then I go, oooh, that's why I'm stuck.

I went through the scene (what I have of it so far) paragraph by paragraph, checking with my heroine if this was right or not. I found a few things that were relatively minor, but one thing that might be big enough for her to dig her heels in and refuse to move forward.

I had her going from zero to frantic over not very much. I know Zo (the heroine) takes things in stride with her hero and I knew she had a job that would require her to be able to think on her feet and improvise, but I didn't have her reacting that way in the scene. Zo wouldn't become frantic. She might become concerned--she has reason to be--but she's a planner. Instead of becoming frantic, she'd start thinking up plans. If he does A, then I'll do B and so on.

It's too soon to know for sure whether or not this is what had me spinning my wheels all week, but it's a decent bet. I'm reworking the scene now, toning down Zo's reaction and bringing in her thought processes. One of the keys of her personality is how cool she is under pressure. Now I just need to write her that way.