What? No, I am a fiction writer and I make up my characters, but there are times they do not seem to fit the image I had in mind. I did what a lot of writers do, I’d put the story away for a while and think. A lot of times, even this did not help.
What helped, was a child. Yes, a young girl playing with her doll. I listened for over an hour while she had a pretend tea party, wore an old floppy summer hat, probably one of her mother’s old collections, and got disgusted that her ‘dolly children’ would not mind.
WHAM! I received that kick in the behind and a thump on the head as I realized what I could do to jump-start my story. I need to be my character. Of course, if you are working, you might have to wait until off hours or the weekends, but try out this role play.
Become your character for a weekend. Live like you think she wants to live, talk in a different voice, spice up your life with your new self.
In your story, is she treated in a different manner because of her lack of education or the side of town she lives in? Do her friends make fun of her? Is your character out spoken and not afraid to say anything to anyone? Or does she drag words out slow, slow, and slower causing people to turn away. Does she dress like a hippie from the 60’s, or always wear blue jeans and a t-shirt? Does she try to dress like the most elegant female alive. Of course, these clothes may come from thrift stores if she does not have a job or is not able to hold onto a job.
Now, hit your story. No, not to write but to read. Forget any typos, the missing places, and concentrate on your character. What about the people around her and the guy she wants, but never seems to get. You need to feel her as a person and not a character in your story. You will need all of this for a whole weekend. Do not plan anything except to be your character.
Go to areas of town unfamiliar to you and where none of your friends hang-out. You are “xxx”, a new person and you need to meet different people and try out your new character. You may feel uncomfortable for a while, but it will not last. Your new character will take over and surprise you.
Do you see any guys walking around or sitting at a different coffee shop? Would any appeal to your character? Do you find yourself in a position to start a conversation as your new character?
Return home and to YOU and go back to your story, but not the old one. Start making notes about your character. Do not worry about all the details, just write from your new character’s feelings. You will be shocked at what flows from your fingers to the keyboard. Do not stop; keep writing until you are drained.
The next day, pick up your story and begin again. You will find yourself in tune with your story character. Just let go and enjoy the sensation of knowing your character inside and out.
Happy Character Hunting. Happy Writing.