Aug 28, 2013

Finding inspiration

The doctor is in!
I'm in the midst of writing a different kind of book for me. It's got more than two main characters and lots going apart from schmexy times (although there's plenty of that too!).

But this week, one of my characters just won't play ball. She's confused, and complicated, and possibly a little annoying. (A little annoying is okay, I think. A lot annoying is a problem, and sometimes it's hard to draw a line between the two.)

So I've been soaking up as many characters in the past few days as I can. Reading. Watching TV. Movies. Even jumping on Facebook and social media to look at the way different people talk and interact.

No one told me this writing caper would involve having to inhabit the mind of a psychologist! Or perhaps, maybe, I'm the one who needs the psychologist? Nah, that's what crit partners are for, right? ;)

I think I'm probably at a point now where I need to just keep writing. Write and write and write until I get her to make some sense. It feels wasteful, but I guess if it helps me to make her more believable and real, then it won't be wasted effort at all.

What do you guys do if you get stuck with a story? How do you bring your characters into line if they're playing up and refusing to stay in their neat little boxes? Let me know your tricks!


  1. I could say snap to this! I found if I kept writing, my characters eventually gave up their secrets to me. Then I went back and edited out all the blather it took to get there.

    The writing to 'get there' is not wasted, because I figure my characters wouldn't trust me until we blathered for a while and I could prove I was a good listener ...

    Hmmm, I need more compliant characters.

  2. Emmie, this is perfectly timed. I've just got in from a long walk which is what I do when my characters are not playing ball. It's amazing how often this works for me and I come home with the answers I need. Today I had hit the wall with 10,000 words to go and now I have a good idea what's going to happen.

  3. hugs on your uncooperative character, Emmie! When I'm stuck, I find a long walk can help just like Sue. Or if the weather's nice, I try twisting my DH's arm to take me for a motorcycle ride. There's something about having my head stuffed into a helmet that does my thought processes the world of good!

  4. I used to write, write, write, Emmie and instead now I plot, plot, plot. I find if I plot in advance I don't run into as many characters who just aren't playing ball. The only issue I have with plotting (and I find it is so much better as I don't throw out thousands and thousands and thousands of words) it that I know what happens in the end. So, although it is still fun to write, the end it not a surprise.

  5. Sorry to hear that!!! My suggestion is to go back and look at your characters. Ask her questions, interview her. Once you work her out perhaps she'll be more cooperative?

    Also, revisit your GMC. You can be a panser but without solid GMC your book will start to sink in the middle.

    That's my two cents worth....Good luck with it all!!!!!!!! :)

    PS - because I'm a plotter like Jen, I don't write, write, write to work things out. I go back and look at my characters/GMC and tweak that. Once I do that, everything then usually falls into place.

  6. Thank you for sharing your process Ebony.

    I get stuck and go off in the wrong direction sometimes and maybe it is more difficult for pantsers but if you're not a plotter it seems the only way to move forward.

  7. Emmie, sorry to hear you've run into a hard patch. I wish there was an easy answer, but I've so enjoyed reading other people's suggestions. Sometimes, yes, it's a matter of revisiting the original conflict and character premise. Like Sue and Sharon I too find long walks help, or going out to chat over coffee with writer friends. Just talking through the issue can help me. And yes, I've been known to write myself out of trouble and then fix. I suppose it depends on the exact problem? I love your idea of immersing yourself in lots of characters!

  8. Am loving the sound of your book already, Emmie, even if your characters are being a little recalcitrant. I think reading and watching tv etc are really good things to do to stimulate your muse and shake some things loose.
    That's what I'd be doing!
    Good luck.

  9. Emmie, I do exactly what you're already doing - read, watch TV, movies. And write. Good luck!