Sunday, July 14, 2013

Learning as we go!

So I thought I would share something that I learned recently. Hopefully it will help some of you who feel a bit blocked when you're writing a story that wasn't fully born in your own brain.

I recently decided to work on an entry for an anthology. It was for a great cause, and there are a bunch of amazing people who will be involved. Anyways, the I was given a bare bones plot, a genre, a few character names, and was then left to my own devices. Easy, right? Ha! Yeah, not really. It's way harder than I expected.

I spent a week or two diagramming where I wanted to go with the characters and where the story would go. That was slightly difficult (Obviously. It took a a week or two.), but I managed. I almost never fully go along with my own diagrams and such, but I like to keep up with them in case I get stuck or in case I forget something I've already written in a story (like character appearances, events, etc.) Trust me. It's easier to forget small details like that than you think. If I had any advice for a new writer, that would be it. Jot down finicky details that you'll likely forget. It's easier to look at your notes than try to figure out where you put it in the story.

So anyways, after the diagramming and stuff was done, I dove right in. It's my typical method, and it hasn't failed me yet. Well ... until this time. It was really hard to get into the story. Which is a bit surprising because the stuff I was given is great material to work with. So I did some meditating. I tried to come up with a logical answer as to why I couldn't get into the story, despite the fact that I was able to diagram the heck out of it.

And then it hit me. I do so well with Avery, Lilliana, Madeline, Lana and Eden (the latter four are all in currently unreleased stories), because they were born in my brain. They're my characters. They're like my children. I know them almost as well as I know myself. While I came up with the looks and personalities of these new characters, they still just didn't feel personal. Like that random kid at school that you always said hi to every once in a while. You don't dislike them. You just don't really know them and don't click together like you do with your BFF.

So then I had a new problem to solve. How do you MAKE these characters personal? How do you become BFFs with this character that you know so little about? How would you find a connection to this character who wasn't born in your head?

Well, I have a relatively new friend that has a personality that fit in somewhat with the personality that I wrote for the main character. I wondered how much it would help to place his personality inside this awesome new character. With his permission (or really me telling him I'm going to do it and him just so happening to be okay with it), I set to work. While this character is not EXACTLY him and he isn't EXACTLY this character, it somehow made it easier for me to relate to this book guy. It somehow made me care about the character a bit more, and it completely wiped out my relatively apathetic feelings for the story. It somehow breathed new life into it, so I'm just as excited about it now as I was when I was told about this anthology. Somehow, making even that tiny connection was enough to turn this character into my adopted child.

So, I don't know if this trick will work for absolutely everyone. However, it worked amazingly for me. Perhaps if you have the same problem, it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. Or at the very least, perhaps it gave you direction in figuring out why you can't relate enough to your own project that was given to you by someone else. At any rate, if it helps even one person, I figure that's a success.

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