Getting To Know All About You

Earlier in the year, a writing buddy and I planned to Fast Draft (FD) in the summer.  My plan was to FD the women’s fiction wip I’d been working on since fall 2008.   Finish it up finally.   Well, a month or so before the scheduled FD, I got an idea for an urban fantasy.  One of those ideas that stalks you during your waking hours and also  disturbs your sleep time.  I couldn’t wait to start writing it.

When the FD start date came, I was ready.  I’d done a quite a bit of research and had started doing a little world building.  I had my heroine’s name and I knew what her did for a ‘living’.  I also had a vague idea of how the story would to go and list of things I wanted to happen (I’m a pantster with a weakness for plotting).  But most important,  I had a song to keep my inspiration level at maximum.  I was set to crank out this story.

Fast forward to today.  The UF is sitting at 25,000 words.  And I won’t be touching it again until next summer.

So what happened?

I didn’t know my heroine as well as I thought.  Knowing her current and previous job was fine and dandy, but did little to help me discover the whys and whats of her life.  Like why is being honorable so important to her?  Or why she wanted to be a warrior?  Or what is she trying to prove through her current job?  If I had known the answers to these questions and a few others, I would have a rough draft of the story now.

Since putting the story aside, I have spent time getting to know my heroine.   For me, that’s opening a blank document and free writing  the answers to my why and what questions.   When I finish, I have a good idea of  the character and what motivates her.

So how do you get to know your characters?



Filed under Kimberly, writing

4 responses to “Getting To Know All About You

  1. Interviews, and Watching the story. It’s hard, like you said, to realize you don’t know your character at 25k. OTOH, if she hadn’t been there, would you have even thought to ask the question you are now asking? Feels like a catch 22 to me. Makes me think the only good way to plot is to start writing. The interviews help. The data sheets….

    I have that problem, too. Like my newest Heroine. I planned her to be sorta goofy…like she was going to pretend to need rescuing because her hubby is sort of ignoring her. When I reached the end of the scene, it hadn’t happened. She stayed serious. So… who’s in control? Do I go back and give her that quirk? That desperation that will make people laugh [including her hubby] or do I keep it real and serious? 😛 Ugh! I have no idea. I don’t want her to be boring…..
    Well, sorry for going on and on.
    Great post. Good luck on your new story.

    • mamadivine

      I wonder too with my stories, who’s in control. Or who should be in control. It seems like the writer starts out in control and then control shifts to the characters and/or plot at some point in the writing process. If the characters and/or plot are fleshed out enough, the power shift shouldn’t be an issue. But if the characters and/or plot has been fleshed out the stalls because there are missing pieces.

      I don’t know.

      I’m sure you’ll figure out what to do with your heroine. And I’m sure she won’t be boring.

  2. jodi

    I’m not sure. I know my people inside and out. But, they’re like people. They grow and change and sometimes stuff comes out of left field. I have the feeling I needed to wait two years to finish Tris because I wasn’t where I needed to be writing-wise. People like Jen make it look easy, but sometimes, it’s just a lot of free association and hard work, thinking and thinking and wondering if it’s all going to end up right.

    I finally had to admit my plot was getting in the way. I wanted everyone to do what I wanted and that’s not what the story was about. But…it took awhile to get past myself. 🙂

    • mamadivine

      I had a similar experience with Natalie (the heroine from my women’s fic wip). I needed to grow as a writer and as a person before I could do her and her story justice.

      I’m so glad I got past myself too.

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