For the longest time, I struggled through my writing, trying to force the characters into uncomfortable situations, and thrusting unnatural roles upon them. In the planning stage of my writing, I concocted a set plan that needed to happen. Although I expected elements of the story to change, that was reserved strictly for the setting and plot points, not characters.
Meanwhile, my characters were SCREAMING at me from the pages, begging me to set them free and allow them to set their own paths, or create their own stories.
At first, I didn't hear them. Then I ignored them. When their voices started to cry out, I rejected them. After all, I was the writer, they were my subjects. Basically, they were my written slaves, and their lives were mine to control.
Meanwhile, I still struggled. The big reveals didn't seem to be revealing very well. Confrontations were static and forced. Major events felt wrong. And I kept rinsing with the same author wash, determined that if I did, eventually these characters would smell a little better.
But they didn't. They stunk. In some cases, they stunk badly.
Finally, one of my character went on strike. Some of you refer to it as a writer's block, but for me, it was one of my protagonists going on strike. She was trying to tell me that no, she WASN'T a protagonist, but was actually a villain, and not just any villain, but the main cheese...the big baddie...the number one player in the end game of the story. Stumped, and with nowhere to go as long as she was on strike, I finally sat down and listened.
And boy, did she set me straight. The next time I sat at my desk, I let her do her thing. Lo and behold, my fingers started dancing across the keyboard again, and the gentle, relaxing ticking of the keys once again filled my space.
That moment, when my character dropped her picket sign and rejoined my book, I realized one thing. It is not my story, it's the story of my characters. It didn't matter how planned out my book was, if the characters didn't agree with the direction things were going, then things were only going to go in one direction: down.
When writing, one of the most important things you can do is listen to the characters you've created. They are wise, and most of the time they know what they want to do. If you let them loose, you may just find that they come alive again, and in ways you didn't expect. Their passion will shine through in your words, and your story will once again find that flow that every writer dreams of.
When your characters go on strike, as often they will, sit down with them. Let them air their grievances, and don't just nod and smile. Listen to them. In the end, it may be your story, but it's their world, and nobody understands that quite like they do.
Happy writing, my friends!
**We here at FauphTalk Fiction wanted to take a quick moment to pass along our thanks to the #WolfPackAuthors for their support over these past few days! Building up the numbers on social media is important, and the pack has been working hard to support each other! Big thanks to the Alpha of the pack, Jeff DeMarco.
Keep on howling, everyone!