I’ve really struggled this week to keep on top of my writing. I’ve found my own lack of positives to be really affecting my characters, something I’m trying desperately to get to grips with before it starts leaking into my work.
It’s really hard when the world around us is draped with bad news, and it was only on a second read through of one of my chapters that I’ve found it worming it’s way into the pages. My normally happy chappy is no longer beaming and I’ve sensed a whole different part of the character coming across when I’ve been reading back over it. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I want my characters to be three dimensional and vivid and real. But it makes me question how much of their emotions I need to include in the book.
A lot of the time, the research writers do is for themselves. Yes, some bits will dribble in and out of the book, but a lot of it won’t actually be included. We do it so we can flesh out the plot and write the best book possible. It doesn’t matter whether the reader knows that Great Aunt Silvia was born in a bungalow if it’s not integral to the plot.
This got me thinking, what emotions are integral to my plot and my characters?
So, as ever, I made a brew and tried to think of some ways that might help.
With the ones that weren’t so integral, I decided to make up scenarios so I could see how each character would react in a situation fuelled by this emotion. These weren’t necessarily situations that I could see being in the finished novel, they were more like ‘what if?’ questions to help me piece together my characterisation.
Some of the situations/what if questions I used were:
- what if they were expelled?
- what if their dog died?
- what if they got drunk?
- what if they woke up on Mars?
- what if they were an only child?
- what if they were at the bottom of the social hierarchy?
- what if they didn’t get on with their family?
- what if they could no longer hear?
Although I knew I wasn’t going to include these scenes, it was important for me to know the different sides to my character and how they would react and feel in situations out of their control.
I really enjoyed putting my character in other situations but also challenging myself to go out of my own comfort zone.
It is easy as a writer to stick with a certain age group/genre when you’re comfortable writing for them. But it does wonders for your writing if you can step away from what you’d normally write.
You never know, you might just like it.