Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thinking through our characters

I frequently reach moments in my rough drafts that read something like this:

Clara had no idea what to do. She was lost. Totally, utterly lost. Lost lost lost. "I know," she thought. "I'll make a list. One side of the page will be all the pros for going into the deep, dark forest after Jed (I think I love him, he could be in danger, I'm getting bored...), on the other side will be all the cons (he could be in danger, I've heard there might be rabid beasts in the forest, and there are those strange noises coming from the back yard every evening that haven't yet been explained)." Clara sat down on her bed and drew up her list. But it wasn't enough. She couldn't make up her mind. What if there was a third option she hadn't thought of? "Better journal for a while," she thought.

Of course, this is an exaggeration. And there's nothing wrong with characters sharing their thought process. But when I find my characters totally lost, resorting to making lists, or journaling their way out of problems, or going to the library, it's time to put down my rough draft and do some brainstorming off the page. No one wants to read my thought process.

Anyone else guilty of this?

Note: Clara and Jed are not characters in Project Fun. I just totally made them up. But I have to say, I'm now intrigued by what might happen next...


  1. LOL! Yes, I think the unexplained noises in the back yard at night are definitely a matter of concern!

  2. You need to continue this -- I need some information about the rabid beasts in the forest.

    Ha, usually when I get to this point with my characters, I shut down. Sour gummy candy and lots of staring at the screen helps (not much though).

  3. Ha! This is funny. When I find myself drifting towards this sort of thing in my novels, I stop and consult my plot outline or brainstorm a list of what could happen.

  4. Elisabeth: Hah! Yeah, I was getting concerned about the back yard goings on, too. I vote for Clara looking into that, first.

    Karen: LOL! I'll get back to you on those rabid beasts... ;) Lately I've resorted to pacing my living room. Maybe I need to stock up on some sour gummys... they might not help the problem, but yum!

    Mirka: So glad to know I'm not alone!

    Andrea: Thanks! Yeah, it's definitely a good sign that it's time to back up and do some thinking.

  5. So funny! I totally do this. Or when I go back and see that my characters are really tired. I know that I was probably really tired when I wrote it!

  6. Christina: Phew, so glad to hear I'm not the only one! I have tired characters, too! Or sometimes really hungry characters about to savor an amazing dinner. Hmmm... ;)


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