For those of you who don’t think of your characters as real, living, breathing people, you might as well stop reading now because some of what I’m going to say is going to sound really off the wall. (And for those grammarians who will tsk tsk me and tell me that ‘it’s WRITE not SAY’, because it is the written word, well, then click that little button at the top of the post.)
I made a promise to myself to write at least 500 words a day. Unfortunately, life interfered, as it does, and I have been off the wagon for a while. To ease back into the daily joy of writing, I went into a couple of scenes in my head, with first one character, then the other, to see how it would work out. Well, if it worked out, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.
So what do you do when you characters don’t agree with you? I tried arguing with them, but that just wastes time and breath. They don’t listen and don’t care that you have to write 500 or even 250 words that day. You know what they say? “That’s not my problem. You’ve got me doing something I would never do in a thousand years and there’s no way that I’m doing it.” (Sometimes I get a ‘so there’ at the end from my female characters.
I have devised many ways to trick my characters into bouncing and behaving little creatures. Hopefully, you too can use these techniques to jump start your work.
- Re-interview them – yes, it may sound insane, but I’ve taken to interviewing my characters before I start so that I have an idea of how they might react in certain situations. Though I have the outline of the plot there, interviewing your characters might give you that extra information you need to really make things work.
- Give them a birthday – no, I don’t mean throw them a party (although that also might work) I mean literally, give them a birth date. I’ve given birth dates to all my characters recently…and then that gives them a zodiac sign. Voila! Instant strengths, weaknesses and personality traits, and lots of ideas on what they like and dislike. In addition, usually these books and/or websites give you their compatible and non compatible signs – a good place to start if you want to escalate conflict between characters.
- Re-read – If have been away from a work in progress for a while, I go back and re-read (w/out editing) . This helps to re-immerse myself in the story and the characters and often gives me a fresh eye on the narrative and plot.
So there you have it. Those are the three techniques I use on a rotating basis to help jumpstart my writing. Usually they work. Sometimes they don’t.
What techniques do you use to recharge your writing? Let us know!