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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Character Engimas

Ideas come in so many different ways that it's impossible to count them or even (sometimes) keep track of what triggered one. For my Work In Progress (WIP), though, I was inspired by a place. Maybe this is why I've had so much trouble hearing my characters' voices. I'm used to starting with my hero/heroine--if not as the spark for the idea, then at least having them in my head early, talking until I know enough to start writing.

Not this time, though. Oh, I knew who my hero and heroine are. Heck, I knew who the heroes and heroines are for all three books in the series I plan to do. It wasn't as if they were hiding from me, but my heroine in book 1? I let her life circumstances get in the way of her personality.

I thought she'd be serious all the time because she does have a serious goal and a serious profession, and as I'd try to write her, I'd spin my wheels. I trashed everything I wrote in this story ever other day for two months. That's a lot of days and a lot of restarts. Then I got an opening where her tone was right. As soon as I wrote it, I knew I had her. She's not dour, but someone with a breezier personality. And I had to trash those pages, too, because they were filled with logic holes that were so bad, they undermined her intelligence. :-/ Yeah. Back to the drawing board.

More writing and more trashing of writing commenced and then one day, I had her personality and a setup that didn't look like Swiss cheese. Hurrah! My jubilation lasted right up until she was face to face with the hero and he just stood there, saying and doing nothing.

Yes, I was so focused on trying to get my heroine's personality that I didn't pay any attention to the hero. Sure, I had the gist of who he was, I even had his goal down pat, I just didn't know who he was and what drove him. But I don't want to do a character sketch, I whined to my writing buddies. I know they're effective when I have an uncommunicative character, but they're such a bore to work through. My writing friends all said what I knew--you're going to have to do it.

And a funny thing happened. I think I filled out like two questions before I started to get him. I don't know him as well as his heroine, not yet, but I know him enough to write him and let the details come through as we go. That's what I needed.