I had a fight with my MC today…

10 Apr

Have you ever placed yourself in front of your computer/laptop/notebook and felt completely lost, a million questions about your storyline, the wants and needs of your characters, plot developments, and my favorite, character names rushing through your head? Or maybe you stare stoically at the blank screen hoping inspiration will come down from thin air and magically twenty pages of perfect error-free text will appear before you. Or maybe you strategically and painstakingly plot your story/novel out, each bullet point on your outline describing every detail of each scene, and each character attached to a file with their name and corresponding picture from Google. Or maybe you’re like me and combine all of these methods which can create a bit of an unpredictable writing routine.

Today I took the “Wait for inspiration to strike” approach and ended up spending my day on Facebook… I tried to force inspiration by borrowing from my usual triggers; music, book blurbs, blogs, clicking through my reference photos, all to no avail. I ended up re-editing a past blog entry, snacked on starburst jellybeans (no sweets for me for awhile), and cleaned excessively (which for me is normal). I decided I needed to just sit and think for awhile about where exactly I wanted to go with my story (I’ve been editing and reworking this novel since the sixth grade) and I decided to imagine my character standing in the same room next to me so I could ask her some questions…

This is where I let my frustration get the better of me and I allowed myself to get annoyed with my Main Character (MC). She refused to answer my questions, which is understandable because I made her stubborn and difficult, but I am also the one who created her so I expected a little cooperation. She became even more difficult when I asked her questions about a scene I had just written that didn’t seem to run as smoothly as I had imagined; when I asked about a romantic interest she kept completely silent. I decided I would write her out of the story if she couldn’t tell me where she was going next… And then I decided that was probably not the greatest idea…

Imagining my characters in the same room is hard because I’ve created this fantastical world for them to fit into and suddenly I’ve pulled them out and placed them into my world. And then I hope that they answer my questions just because I happened to have a hand in their creation… That’s like saying you have to tell your mom about the party you went to last night or you’re grounded, because, she pretty much owns you… And it is exactly like that! Make your character speak to you! Yeah, she or he may be reluctant at first but you’ve got to be persistent and pull that story out of them.

I’m not saying to threaten your characters with groundings (although who knows, with some, that might work) I’m just saying put them in a corner and see what happens, imagine situations in which you wouldn’t normally place them and see how they react, imagine how they would interact with your best friend or the creepy neighbor who leaves skittles in his driveway for the neighborhood cats. Gage reactions and find out habits you hadn’t even realized your character possessed, these could eventually if not immediately help to create a new plot thread. The point is as much information as you want from your character, you have to put into getting out of your character;  you did after all create them. And now I have to resurrect my main character…

I also picked up four books from the store and I can’t wait to start them!

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3 Responses to “I had a fight with my MC today…”

  1. Kourtney Heintz April 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    I find myself playing therapist with my characters. A scene will play out in my head and then I’ll ask, why did she react that way? What happened to her in her past? What made her this way? And little by little it comes to me. I figure out her family background and start filling in the years before we met. But sometimes I’m wrong and it gets all muddled and I have to start over. It’s almost as if they are letting me know when I jump to the wrong conclusion. And it definitely comes in fits and starts. Sometimes they refuse to open up. Sometimes they are dying to confide in me. 🙂

    • Loren Chase April 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

      I feel exactly the same way. Writers should be therapists, we have to analyze our characters, find out their motives, know their family history, and sometimes their doctor records! But it’s such an exciting experience, and sometimes those moments when you have to search for the information are the best ones. But it’s also nice to have a character that spills information out onto the page, which makes my job so much easier. 🙂

  2. Kourtney Heintz April 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    You’re right. It’s hard when they are reticent or just flat out refuse to talk (especially when you really really need them to). But we still love them no matter how difficult they are. 🙂 It makes it so much sweeter when they finally reveal more details!

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