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on the power of showing up

note: I wrote this post in April of 2019 (pre-COVID). It's been sitting in my drafts for quite a while, but I think it's time for it to see the light of day. It's been helpful for me to reread over the past few months, especially as I continue to try to make an effort to write, and I hope it can be helpful to you, too. i got an invite to a writers' group a few months ago, and i had never felt like more of a fraud in my life. it had been months, if not years, since i'd felt like a writer. the proverbial well of words in my heart had dried up, it seemed, and i wasn't sure if it was ever coming back. i agreed to go out of a sense of helplessness—i'd identified as a writer ever since i could remember. if i'm not a writer, who am i?  i told myself that it was important to show up and act like a writer even when i didn't feel like one, because even though i hadn't been writing, i reassured myself, i still was a writer. but sometimes the words f

How to Control Your Characters


Let me try to sum it up simply, in two words.

You can't.

Yes, the characters do belong to you, but just wait. Soon they'll start developing their own brains. Their own personalities. Their own way of doing things.

And sometimes, you may just be wondering if you're even the author at all.

Your main male protagonist, who had been perfectly well behaved up until chapter 22, may just start rebelling. "Yes, you remember me? You amputated my leg in chapter 10! I'll never forgive you for that!" Soon the other characters will join in, waving signs of protest and going on strike.

This, I think, is what is more formally known as writer's block.

Characters simply won't obey. This point has been proven to me time and time again. The other night was the most recent evidence of this, when a character showed up in my brain waving a rather large sign. "HELLO! My name is Beckett! I will be appearing in your next story, so just deal with it."


Yep, you guessed it. He is now in my story.

I've been thinking... maybe it isn't a bad thing when characters don't obey. Maybe it's a good thing.

And maybe, it just means that we're doing a good job with them.

On a more personal note, I have now decided to take a break from my NaNo novel, Silver Tears. It's not that I don't like the novel anymore, and I fully intend to finish it. I'm just having a hard time connecting, and my inspiration has completely run dry.

So, I have a new novel. This one started itself and I really need to find its plot. And yes, Beckett is in said novel. Now it's just a matter of finding out where this novel is taking me.

See? I can't control my novels, either. *sigh*

Comments

  1. That's funny! At least you have Beckett stepping in while your other project needs a break. Love that name, by the way. (:

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  2. Oh, I can totally relate. I was just wondering today what I could do to coax my unmanageable characters into doing what I wanted...needless to say I check blogger and started to read you post. They just laughed at me in victory...they win. All the time.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and give my best regards to Beckett.

    Jessica

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  3. Jenna: Indeed! I suppose Beckett, in that way, is helpful, though at the time it didn't appear to be. I was actually very distraught over the fact that I didn't have a current WIP, and so I refused to take a break on my NaNo novel. As of late, I have this urge that I need to be working on SOMETHING. (I blame NaNo for this.) So, it's rather handy that Beckett stepped in. He's all too happy to oblige. (And yes, his name is one of my absolute favorites, though he'd like me to think that HE was the one who picked it. *rolls eyes*)

    Jessica: Oh, what a great coincidence! I bet your characters were overjoyed. I'm sorry that they won't obey, but hey - at least they're real. I think it's even worse when your characters' personalities resemble cardboard. (Trust me, I've been there.)

    Beckett thanks you for your best regards, and has taken them with a sly smile and a slight bow. He's much too arrogant for his own good, methinks, but then again, it's not like I can do anything to change it! ;)

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  4. OH MY WORD; this is exactly how I feel! I try and tell my Mom, but she doesn't quite get it. I must now print this out and show it to her. This is just - so - YES!!!
    ~ Mirriam

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  5. Yet again, I know exactly how you feel! Characters can by tricksy, unmanageable, and...uncontrollable in more ways than one. I used to think it was my plot, but no. My characters just don't want to suffer what I ha(d) in store for them!

    P.S. I love your blog, especially the name. And--look--I think I can claim the prize of 100th follower! Special, aye?

    ReplyDelete

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