Trust Your Characters

After my big talk yesterday, I suddenly realized I had no idea where this story was going to go from here. That’s pretty much why I left off the first time, I seem to recall. It’s what frequently happens in the middle of the stories. I have a strong beginning, good characters, an awesome world for them to wander around in. What I don’t have is a clear idea of what happens in the middle, and I run out of steam.

So I was on the verge of doing that yesterday, after only another thousand words. (This is a novel, so that’s not much.) And I packed up my laptop in disgust, thinking I was going to have to eat yesterday’s post. But then a little voice in my head spoke up and said: trust your characters. Wait, and they’ll tell you what happens.

And sure enough, this morning, they did.

So to recap, instead of struggling with it, getting frustrated, telling myself I was still working on it even if I’m only thinking about what’s going to come next and trying to get past this block–I just waited and opened myself to what the characters were planning to do.

Sure, it’s mental slight of hand. The story still comes from me. The characters aren’t real. But perhaps I don’t trust myself enough–if I can put the work off onto them, real or otherwise, I can trust they will get it done and I don’t have to. Struggling is what makes the block so thick and heavy and big. Trust can melt it.

I think I’m onto something.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. K. Jayne Cockrill
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:33:35

    I think you’re onto something too. I find when I write that the harder I strain my brain over something, the less clarity I have on it. But if I let it go, it comes to me soon after, seemingly with no effort at all. Another thing I do is talk through my scene and what my characters are or might be doing. Just the act of thinking out loud, explaining to another person where I’m stopped, opens up all kinds of avenues to travel down, and usually one avenue feels more attractive than the others, and off I go!

    Best to you. Love your site.

  2. globalwrite
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 11:38:48

    Is there any other way to write? Some of us are just not outliners.


  3. asherose
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 12:36:20

    Thanks to both. It’s true, I’m not an outliner! I have tried, in the past. What happens is that I feel like I’ve already told the story, and the impetus to actually flesh it out dies. Yet I know that if I started off according to the outline, I’d end up going off in some other direction. So probably better to just forge ahead! 🙂

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