Great Character In Need Of A Good Home

Last week I wrote about how one character with vibrant flashing eyes stole the scene away from my lonely protagonist and demanded that I switch gears and write a paranormal romance for a change. Like most writers I am at the mercy of my characters so like a good little writer I asked no questions and focused on this new mystery man. And that’s exactly what I found….a mystery.

Who was he? Why did his eyes flash? Why was he standing in a darkened doorway of an abandoned building waiting for someone, waiting for her? So, while Savana spent a portion of her weekend reading commercials in her novel I was busy asking questions trying to figure out who this person is.

I’ve never had this problem. Inspiration hits everyone differently; some overhear a conversation on a bus and feel the need to figure out how those two people got there. Others find inspiration in the music that they listen to while they’re driving, and yes sometimes because of it they drive on the other side of the road. (Geesh, you do that one time and no one lets you live it down!) Most people find inspiration through different channels, never knowing how or when they’ll get hit. I’ve been inspired by the slightest things, but this last one, this unexpected character showing up in a carefully outlined story, has thrown me for a loop.

Usually I approach a story with one or two major plot points. I write those scenes out just to get a feel for the story and characters then I’ll go back to outline ways to get to those points. It’s not for everyone, its just how my mind works. Never have I had a character and no story, not even one scene. Well, I have the one where he appeared in the story that I was working on, but that story was already too set in its ways to turn it into a paranormal. In my defense I tried to make it one, it wasn’t pretty.

So, I spent the weekend trying to get to know this character a little more. I learned that he’s just one of three of a royal family in a world that runs parallel to ours…or not. Which is problem number two, not only do I have a character that I love with no set story, I have a billion of ideas running around in my head. Its like my muse opened the floodgates and my mind is getting inundated with different story lines, plot themes, twists and turns. I couldn’t keep the ideas straight.

Luckily for me I have Sparky. He spent almost all of Saturday allowing me to throw the most bizarre and unusual story lines at him. We debated the pros and cons of having different magical abilities and interlocking worlds. We spent hours figuring out the logistics of having portals in your neighborhood shack and how often police would kick out gatekeepers posing as vagrants. It was a lot of fun, too much fun.

I was once again reminded how my mind tends to go towards the supernatural and it made me feel better about my decision to focus more on the oddities in life. Which is great, but I’m afraid that the story is going to turn into one big mess of ideas. I need to learn how to shift through the ideas and find the right one that allows me to do my characters justice.

In order to achieve that, I’ve decided to do an interview with my mystery man with the hope that if I get to know him better he’ll open up and show me the story. I’ll let you know how it goes. So far he’s been a little shifty with his answers, but I know how to soften up the quiet ones. 😉

Once the inspiration hits how do you go about writing your story? Do you jump right into it, writing like a fiend, knowing you’ll fix everything in edits? Do you carefully plan out characters to help in the development of the story? Or, are you like me, well, the me before this damned magical person showed up – do you have certain scenes in your head that you write out and then figure out how to get there?

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6 Responses to Great Character In Need Of A Good Home

  1. Savana Quinn says:

    I typically have an overall idea for a story and a few scenes sketched out. I tried outlining with this story, but I don’t seem to be sticking to it. I also try to have really good insight into who my characters are and what makes them tick.

    As much as I want to jump right in and start writing, I hate editing, so I try to make sure I have a general idea of what is going to happen before I start really writing. Still, the characters always manage to have a mind of their own and take the story where they want it to go–sometimes even across genres. 🙂

    • Kaye Peters says:

      I hate outlining. I outlined my last story and look what happened. This one is completely different for me, not only am I writing someone’s story, but I’m writing about a world that shouldn’t exist. I’ve been handed this power to create a new world and the laws that go along with it. Its scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

      As I try to figure out my characters I’m basically writing little snippets about what I would like to see in the story, almost like plot points but very, very general at this time.

      I have a feeling that this one will take me awhile until I get the hang of it, but I am anxiously awaiting the time when I figured out some logistics and can just write.

  2. Lisa says:

    I sometimes borrow from my experiences in theater. If I meet a new character that I don’t know, I will sometimes ask the character to write a journal entry/monologue kind of thing, and then I’ll discover interesting things about him/her. Or, if I am actually in a theater workshop type thing, I will have other people interview the character. Of course, I’m only beginning to write stories with any power to them, but I have lots of characters with stories yet to be told.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      That’s a very interesting concept. I tried to role play over the weekend with my husband, but he got weirded out. 🙂

      I did start an interview type inquiry into my character. I found that driving inspires me and I start asking questions and coming up with answers. People in other cars must think I’m nuts because I’m basically talking to myself, but eh, whatever. I need to figure this character out, I can’t be worried what strangers in cars think. As long as I stay on my side of the road they have nothing to worry about 😉

      • Lisa says:

        I’ve been wanting to teach an acting class for writers. Not for playwrights, but for other writers, to use drama games and techniques to inspire creating characters and problems. What do you think?

  3. Kaye Peters says:

    Lisa – that is a brilliant idea! I’ve read various blogs how writers use role playing, question and answer and other theatre techniques to not only develop characters but to develop scenes. The one writer said she would bring out her daughter’s Barbie dolls to act out scenes. Sometimes I even stand up in the middle of writing to act a scene out so I can get the motions down, especially if its an action scene.

    If you do it, let me know how it turns out. I’m sure it will be a blast!

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