I realized this weekend that I was still avoiding something I rather had to do if I wanted to move forward in pumping out solid pages of interesting story.
I needed to sit down and get more acquainted with my characters. Especially my secondary characters, who are about to be introduced, but my main characters as well.
Please excuse the bad reality TV reference, but this makes me feel like the girls in The Bachelor who are always saying that they realized they need to take down a wall of self-defense and disclose more about themselves.
Interestingly, in this case, it's not me that needs to let my characters into the secret of my personality and past. It's the other way around. (Or one would think.)
What I realized is that I'm scared to dive deeper into some of my characters' lives and psyches. This is something I predicted earlier, but so far it's been pretty painless with the main ones--even gleeful. But since I'm writing from a first-person narrator, I've really only had to dive into my narrator's thoughts.
The thing is that the other characters are about to get more involved soon, so I need to understand them not only from my narrator's perspective, but from theirs as well, though ultimately I'll write it from his perspective.
I don't like doing this part. Some of these characters have deep dark secrets I'll have to disclose, or I wouldn't have an interesting plot. I feel like if I proceed I'll become the author character in Stranger than Fiction who is writing a story when her primary fictional character discovers she's creating and narrating his life. In the movie, the character blames the author tremendously for a raw deal. And I think I imagine that these characters might pop out of these pages and do the same to me.
Still, as with those I love in life, I can't protect my characters from bad things happening to them. Nor can I entirely protect them from themselves. (Nor, for that matter, can I protect myself from any emotional wells that may pop open in myself through writing about my characters' lives and emotions.) And so I must put my fears aside and get to know them better.
Especially since, let's face it, getting to know these characters better is much more statistically likely to produce a long-lasting and satisfying relationship than The Bachelor.
Okay, I've just received a date card for a group date with my characters. Hopefully if I persist, they'll give me a rose and allow me to finish these next couple of chapters.
Monday, February 11, 2013
NaNoWriSpr: On Getting to Know One's Characters; Or, Authorial Guilt
Labels: author-character relationships, creative writing, emotions, empathy, NaNoWriSpr, vulnerability
I'm a writer, an incurable reader, a narrative theorist, a media researcher, a scholar/author/writer/consultant, a PK, and the Queen of Soup Making. I write a lot, and I've taught a wide range of topics in universities. Along my journey I've picked up a PhD in Communication from Purdue and 2 degrees in English. I've been turning my ideas about communication as author-audience relationships into a communication paradigm that can be applied to a wide range of situations. I'm also writing a historical mystery series. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of the Mystery and Detective Fiction Caucus of the Popular Culture Association. My MA thesis focused on connections between T. S. Eliot and Thoreau, who each wondered about how to remain still and still moving. Before I went to grad school, I spent 7 years working for a division of HarperCollins Publishers.