Today, it’s all about character autonomy. We’ve all heard about writers whose characters talk to them, or decide not to talk to them.
I must admit, I technically include myself in this group. My characters become fully fledged people in my mind. Their personalities develop in ways I don’t expect as the story progresses, which sometimes means I have to adjust things throughout the story to stay true to their personality. (Can’t have any continuity errors, after all.)
I don’t know how much that happens for dedicated plotters, but I’m a pantser. I figure the whole thing out as I go (flying by the seat of my pants), and it helps to see the characters as “real” rather than just words that I have complete control over.
It’s freeing, really.
It allows the story to develop naturally, moving it beyond my conscious control and the restraints I might otherwise put on it. My subconscious visits much darker places than my conscious mind typically does.
Plus, as I’ve said before, people mess up their own lives all the time. If you treat your characters like real people, they’ll create all sorts of problems for themselves.
Now, whether you’re on the side of, “They’re just words, words that YOU write,” or “My characters are like people to me,” character autonomy is not an excuse not to write.
Don’t get me wrong.
It is wonderful when things just click. There are days where the characters are just there, and their voices are clear and pristine. But there are also days where things just…don’t flow. At all. The well runs dry, sometimes. (aka…”My characters aren’t talking to me, today.”)
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.
This is where the conscious mind comes in. This is when you need to think through the story you’ve drummed up, look at the personalities your characters have blossomed into, and figure out what they would do next.
Just because it isn’t flowing naturally at 1,000 words a second doesn’t mean you should go to the cafe and sit there with a latte scrolling through random cat pictures online, telling people, “My characters aren’t talking to me, today.”
That’s not how you finish a novel.
That’s how you end up with an unfinished manuscript, the details of which you forget by the time you ever go back to it.
If your characters aren’t “talking” to you, it’s time to write the scene that would logically come next, considering the world and the people and the plot.
Maybe it’ll wake them up.
Maybe it’ll be perfect.
If not, if inspiration strikes later, you can always adjust or scrap what you’ve written. But it’s better to write something than it is to just sit there procrastinating and blaming it on your characters.
At the very least, you’re getting practice writing. And lets face it, we all need to practice writing.
Now, for a progress report.
I resized my paperback cover and revealed it to all you lovely people. I have to say, thank you all. This cover got such a warm response from all of you, and I truly appreciate it.
I think I finished all the tweaks all the files will need before being uploaded to Ingram. It won’t be long before I can set it all up for preorder!
I also got some writing done, making it up to 24,405 words. It’s nowhere near the amount I wanted to write last week, but that’s okay.
Mainly because my husband and I finally got some goddamn storage. Our stupid house has one fucking closet. Four bedrooms, one closet. How the fuck that makes any sense is beyond me.
And then the bar on one side of the only closet broke.
So we’ve had an absolute fucking mountain of clothes piled atop a few baskets in our bedroom for a while, now. But we finally found some cube shelves we like and some little cube baskets we like. And we got a new set of bars for the one fucking closet.
Then we spent like 7 hours just putting all the cubby shelves together and folding clothes.
It sucked ass.
But our bedroom is tolerable, now, even though there’s still some more shit to hang up.
So, life kinda got in the way of a huge chunk of writing time on my day off. But I still made progress.
For now, time to get a bit more writing in.
Keep reading. Keep writing. (Even if your characters aren’t talking to you.)