Having Fun and Oh My Gosh, is THAT how Characters Take Over???


Having fun when you write is essential – Yes, I know, sometimes tears are important too, and energy and emotion and strength and perseverance, but in any endeavor, having fun keeps you going more than any other of those things.

So, what happens when you’ve hit a rough spot or an insolvable problem and after weeks or maybe even months, you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall and wishing you’d never started the dang project? How do you get the fun back into the equation?

We all try all the different things that can be done in that situation. We take a day or more away. Or we try to force our way through it. Or we try logic and mapping out all the pros and cons, all the paths available, all the ways that might deliver what we need most – that troublesomely rare and elusive solution.

Sometimes we quit. Sometimes we sleep on it. Sometimes we hand it over to our characters.

Forcing a character to come up with their own solution is not the same as leaving that character to find their own solution. The first – demanding a character take over – leaves you (the writer) still in the situation of having to solve a problem. You’re still at your desk. The second – leaving that character to do it alone – has you (the explorer) treating your character as a viable being and being prepared to engage with them. You’ve entered their world.

The moment you start to wonder how the character would go about it, something happens on a subconscious level. In effect, you slip from your desk and enter the character’s world where their worry is not how you will solve a problem. Their worry is ground-level. It’s right there and if their problem is particularly serious, they are going to die unless they work it out.

They’re not working with words. They’re looking around for a lump of driftwood to use as a weapon, or they’re tearing curtains into strips to weave together into a rope, or they’re trying to learn how to fly the dang helicopter. Whatever. They’re not interested in telling a story, they’re interested in survival.

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