Stuck? Talk to Your Characters

Okay, so I’d been making good progress on my MS for months, chugging along, writing multiple pages nearly every day.

And then, lately, words stopped flowing quite as easily. I’d go to outline upcoming scenes and just end up sitting there staring at the screen.

The problem was not the overall story; I’ve been creating this series in my mind since 7th grade so I KNOW what needs to happen. But I was stuck with this one particular section. Hell, I’d even– in my quest to just write SOMETHING– forged ahead and banged out some scenes that occur afterwards. For whatever reason though, the thing I was trying to make my character do, which seemed to make perfect sense in light of events that occur much later, was just. not. happening.

This kept me stalled for days. I wrote a few different versions of what I was trying to make happen, and although technically there was nothing wrong with what I wrote, it just didn’t feel right. It felt shoehorned in, like my character really was just doing these things because I said so, and not because it was something he actually would do.

Last night, while in bed and thinking about these troublesome scenes, I finally decided to try something wacky:

I asked TJ (my MC in this section) why this wasn’t working. What did he really want instead?

A huge plus that comes with thinking up this story for 20+ years now is that I know my characters inside and out. I see those kinda silly exercises that pop up every once in awhile on blogs or in writing magazines about “getting to know your characters” by answering questions like “what would your characters be doing during a thunderstorm/ordering from a diner at midnight/if their mother was diagnosed with cancer, etc.” and  I don’t even need to think about it. I just know. Tell me what year, and what character, and I can tell you the answer to any of the above scenarios easily. So pulling TJ aside for a moment and being like “hey, what’s going on here?” worked, and worked well.

I was trying to force him into having feelings for someone, thinking this would be a good set up for something that happens later which is hugely important to the entire rest of the series. But in letting him explain to me why this was just not happening (I know I may come across as insane, sorry, haha), it helped me see that this really wasn’t necessary, that TJ really isn’t interested in this person right now– and that’s okay. I still need x, y, and z to happen, so I asked “okay, well, what is else is bothering you enough  to lead you to those things?” and then I sat back and let him talk.

That’s key. Give your character some space. Let them say what they want to say, no matter what it is. Try not to let yourself get in the way.

Granted, it kinda sucks because I will need to go back and delete a bunch of what I’d written and essentially start a whole section from scratch BUT I think whatever I end up writing now will ring much truer than what I’d been trying to force through before.

Soooooo. . .thoughts? Anyone else talk to their characters or do I just need more friends? (Maybe don’t answer that last part, haha  :/  ).





5 thoughts on “Stuck? Talk to Your Characters

  1. I wouldn’t say I talk to my character’s exactly, but I force them to talk to each other in my head! That can help get the writing going, and can even help plan a scene or two!

    Liked by 1 person

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