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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

I Never Learn

I've been trying to write, and while it's been a struggle since my mom died, I was actually sort of making progress. Very rough progress, but progress nonetheless. And then I came to a screeching halt.

If I were smart enough to learn from the past--which apparently I am not--I would have realized pretty quickly that I was trying to make my characters do something they wouldn't do. I would have mulled it over, talked to my hero and heroine, and measured what I knew of them against what they said and what I was trying to write.

Why? Because often (I won't say every time, but a lot of the time) when I'm stuck, it's because I'm trying to make my characters do something they wouldn't do for the sake of the plot bits I have in my head.

But as I spun my wheels for week after week after week, it never dawned on me that this could be the problem. I blamed it on Point of View (POV) first. I switched back and forth between my hero and heroine about four or five times. I blamed it on not being able to envision the logistics of the scene. How was I going to get my h/h from point A to point B without them getting shot? So I spent time making notes about how to handle this. I even blamed it on not having a clear idea on where the plot was going.

I never asked either of my characters: "Am I trying to make you do something you'd never do?"

Then, after an embarrassingly long time, I finally thought, "Hey, I wonder if it's that problem I almost always have when I'm stuck? Let me look at this."

And guess what? Sure enough, I had my heroine doing something she would not do. In fact, she was pretty adamant about not doing it. Sigh.

So I cut the scene I'd been struggling with entirely and went back to the previous scene and started doing some editing, cutting, adding. My ability to get word count again was nothing short of miraculous!

But it also left me wanting to bang my head against the wall. No matter how many times this happens to me when I'm stuck, it never seems to enter my brain that it's me trying to shoehorn my characters into what I envision rather than letting them act naturally that's the problem. I mean seriously, if this has happened to you repeatedly, don't you think you'd eventually put it toward the top of your list of potential issues?

I haven't yet. Will I in the future? I hope so, but my track record doesn't give me hope.