So Your Character’s Gone AWOL

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So your character has decided to go AWOL, that jerk. If a character has brought the story to a grinding halt, it may be time to reassess some things. Luckily, there are ways to get him back on track. Like any wayward soul, sometimes all your character needs is a little extra love and attention. Here are just a few ways to work through that oh-so-important character-author relationship.

Be a Good Wingman

It’s a writer’s job to be a character’s wingman, even the bad guy’s. How well do you really know your character?  If you took him to the bar, would you be able to order him a drink without it ending in a trip to the ER because he’s deathly allergic to olives? Sometimes the smaller details can be vital to getting inside a character’s head.  If you don’t know a character’s basic strengths and weaknesses, you might accidentally send him steering toward a dead end. Play on a character’s most obvious and plot-advancing personality traits, but keep his less obvious details in the back of your mind while writing. If a character isn’t rounded out inside the writer’s head, he will most likely fall flat in the mind of the reader.

Actions Have Consequences 

A character’s personality is the fuel that leads him to react to any given situation. But, not unlike the real world, actions have consequences. If your character’s personality is not reflected in his actions, you are most likely writing yourself straight into a corner. His reactions must be genuine. If they are, it will help move the plot forward more naturally. If not, the story may start to feel thin and stretched, personality and plot working against each other to create a sad droopy strand of fiction-flavored taffy.

This One is Going to Hurt

You have poured hours into this character. You have imagined the countless pages of fanart that will one day star said character because he is just that incredible. Unfortunately, the truth is this story isn’t for him. He may be your proudest achievement, but if he doesn’t fit neatly into the character dynamic, the setting, the plot, whatever, it will fade the tapestry of awesome that is his personality. A character must have a purpose. If he doesn’t, cut him. I know it hurts. I was forced to cut Clara de Lore, a major character and love interest in my current novel in progress. I spent days trying to find a way to make her fit into the story. But when it came down to it, my only real option was to pluck her out and put her away for another day.

Here are some links to sites I have found helpful for developing characters:

Happy Writing!


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Filed under Girl Meets Fiction

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