What Can I Do About Uncooperative Characters?
I have an idea for a story. Well, more accurately, I have a great character and interesting situation for him and I even have an idea of what he should be doing – a story arc. So with all that clearly laid out, the writing should be a piece of cake, right? WRONG! For some reason this kid is not cooperating with me. I’ve tried writing from the kid’s point of view and writing from a third-person point of view. I even aged the kid thirty years and tried it via flashback. Three times now I’ve written over 1000 words, been dreadfully unhappy, and erased the whole thing.
I’m answering a prompt for a short story contest, but the deadline is three weeks away, so I don’t feel any pressure; that’s not the issue. I am invested in the character and I’d like to make it work, but I’m not sure how. This hasn’t happened to me before. In general when I get an idea, I sit down and write it. Boom. Done. That’s it. I can write more than 1000 words an hour and finished NaNoWriMo before the deadline. (This is just a comment on volume, not quality – I need a LOT of editing when I write at that pace) So you can see why I’m stumped here.
My plan going forward is to sit down with a pen and paper and flesh out more details about the character, the supporting cast, the situation and even some of the action. Perhaps I’ll take out my computer to do it, but sometimes my best thinking is done when I use my hand effectively. Research has been done about the strong connection between the hand and the brain and that it does not translate to typing and I follow this pattern: writing in my journal is more effective when I think about a story than when I just type. Lastly on this topic, my NaNoWriMo was the easiest and the best ever this year and I can pinpoint the one reason why: planning. While I didn’t write at all in October and tried very hard to follow the rules to the letter, I did do a lot of planning. I had a sketch of each character and an idea of his or her motivation for every scene in the story. I am going to apply that principle here. I’m not going to move forward on writing until I have the ideas fully fleshed out.
If anyone out there has a better method, or other advice, I’m open to it. Please let me know!
Some writers build up character bios during/after laying out the plot. This will help you in identifying what makes your character tick – and what doesn’t. The more you know about the character, the easier and more natural it will be to write about him.
Great point. Thanks for that. I will definitely work more on this character’s bio as I move forward – maybe even before I can move forward! Thanks again.