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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When you're out of touch with your characters...

Stopping and restarting a work in progress is a challenge for me and not something I can do as easily as I once could. When I have to a WIP on hold to edit, or judge a contest or work on a time-sensitive story, when I return to it the momentum I had going on has faltered. Going back a chapter or two, or picking random chapters to read often sparks a, Oh yeah, NOW I remember where I was going with this, but not always. Then I pick up where I left off, generally at a slug's pace until I "feel" the book again.

Because retrieving this feeling or momentum isn't always a given, I've taken to answering a list of questions about my characters, just to get to know them again, reintroduce myself in a way. Doing this has become a valuable tool to reestablishing a connection with my heroes and heroines, and quite often I learn something brand new about them that I didn't know when we first met.

My vocation is........ My mother taught me....

I laugh about........ I wish I could.........

My father taught me........ My view of men came from....

My view of women came from.... My favorite memory from my childhood is....

My worst memory from childhood is.... My greatest fault is..........

Men usually............ Work is my............

The place I've always wanted to visit is....because....

When I look at myself in the mirror I see....

I sleep when I'm........ My favorite holiday is....because....

I'm afraid that someday I will....... The greatest influence in my life is....

My mother............ My father..........

Women usually........ No one knows better than I do that....

My greatest weakness is that........ My worst fear is that........

I am happiest when....

And the list could go on and on. If you don't already have one and encounter the same roadblocks I do when you have to step away from one project to work on another, maybe this list will help you easily revisit your story and cast of characters.

7 comments:

Barbara Edwards said...

Great advice. I just went through this when I jumped yo a half-finished mss. A list would have helped get me on track faster.

www.barbaraedwards.net

Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful advice and blog. :)

Linda Kage said...

Yeah, I'm with everyone else. Great advice.

I totally hate it when I lose momentum on a story, epscially when the muse is flowing, the words are flying out of my fingers, the big moment is about to happen and...the baby cries, waking up for her nap. NOOOOOOO!

It's liking starting a car on a cold day by the time you finally return to your manuscript, all sluggish and slow until the motor's warmed up.

Any quick way to get me back in the story is aces with me!

Sandy said...

Usually, just reading the previous chapters or reading my character charts will get back into the story.

Good advice.

Molly Daniels said...

That's a great idea for getting inside your character's head again:)

jean hart stewart said...

Some great stuff I never thought of. I'm about to go back to a WIP I haven't touched for over a month, due to editing two other books. Will be glad to try some of this list. Thanks. Jean

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

It's always good to KNOW your characters. Great list!

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