20 February 2008

Do Characters Talk to You?

Hi Martha,

Here's a question that I'm almost too embarrassed to ask.

My SceneTracker is strong from Chapter 1 Scene 1 through Chapter 3 Scene 7.

I have the big scene for Chapter 5 Scene 15.

It's the empty 7 scenes between that is making me anxious and doubt myself. I could develop characters in each scene and provide their POVs but I feel like I should know the flow and what will happen next "because she did this ...."

Does this happen to others?

And what would be the best way to prime the muse to have the characters tell me the rest of the story?

Do your characters "talk" to you? I've heard writers say this.

What do you honestly think?

Writing in North Carolina

Dear Writing in North Carolina,

One technique would be to leave the scenes empty for now and forge ahead.

If you believe that the Climax -- the final big scene before the Resolution at the End -- determines what comes before, the sooner you reach the Climax the better.

Sounds like creating Dramatic Action filled with conflict, tension, suspense and curiosity is intuitive for you and Character Emotional Development less so. Why do I say that? You wrote first that "I could develop characters in each scene" and followed with your gut feeling: "I feel like I should know the flow and what will happen next "because she did this ...."

Stay in your strength while keeping the goal of writing your first draft all the way through. The important thing is whatever keeps you writing.

My characters seem to take up residency in every aspect of my life for as long as it takes me to finish a project, which can be a long time. I usually know the end before I begin. I take it draft by draft by draft, knowing each draft will deepen my vision of the project as I sink deeper into the story and spend more and more time with my characters.

Look to research to help dream up and develop scenes. Once you know:
1) what the character wants
2) what stands in her way
3( What she stands to lose
4) The character's flaw

Find inspiration and ideas in researching the unusual world you'll develop in the Middle, any major historical, political, spiritual, scientific events during the time period including contemporary.

I'll put the word out for input from other writers.

Good luck.