What drives you to write? What makes you wish to take pen to paper or finger to keyboard?
For me it’s the allure of creating something that didn’t exist before. Some people liken it to having a god complex, especially if you’re writing a genre where you create the entire world or, in some cases, the entire universe. Creating a world with characters and situations that lead to fantastical adventure is thrilling.
An interesting quirk I’ve discovered after writing over 560,000 words in my novels is that sometimes something will hit the page, out of the blue, and I will have no idea where the idea came from. It’s as if the universe granted me some bit of privileged information, a eureka moment, and I just happened to be writing at the time.
Writing a story is like a putting together a giant puzzle. One that only the author can put together. The dynamic part is I don’t know how many pieces there are and I don’t know what the full picture looks like when I start. And when these eureka moments happen I’m presented with an extra piece of the puzzle I didn’t know existed.
Characters Can Exert Their Will
I enjoy writing characters with hidden desires, grand goals, troubling flaws and dismal failures. In the writing process I’ve found, likely because I’m more of a pantser, a character comes along who is hard to understand. You’ve met people like this in real life where you can’t relate to them in any way. I remember training an individual and trying to find out something about him, anything, so as to be able to make meagre conversation. I utterly failed to connect in any meaningful way. Characters can be like this. They can be hard to understand. They take time to unravel.
And then there are characters where you seem to instinctively ‘know’ them; what they want, what propels them forward, what their biggest challenges will be. These are all clear to you. Most likely these are your main characters; the ones you’ve fashioned your story around. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some people in real life where I just knew them at first sight. I could be myself right away. I’m not talking about outgoing people who can approach anyone, but people with whom you can make an almost instantaneous, personal connection.
So, what happens when I find one of my characters is difficult to understand?
I keep writing. That’s easier said than written, but eventually, something happens. That character makes him or herself known to me through the writing. It is an exciting time. I usually have to pause and really think of the implications of what that character just revealed. In one case a simple touch unlocked a hidden connection between two characters that changed the way I viewed how they developed previously. In another instance I had to rewrite a character’s earlier scenes to make them fit with a new feature of their life that I couldn’t pass up.
In either case it is fun to discover what your characters are, especially when they jump out at you unexpectedly, when they push you to write something you hadn’t intended in the first place. You could look at it as a frustration of your overall story. Or you can say this is part of the writing journey. You’re along for the journey, too.
Again, my motto, No Vested Interest in Drafts. If something comes along and makes my story better, stronger, more powerful, then I say explore it. Because, as writers, we are explorers. We are venturing forth into another world, regardless of the genre of story. Go with it. It’s a great ride.
How do you deal with difficult characters in your writing? What tips could you share that would help others?
As always, thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments.Photo by Pawe³ Windys from FreeImages