You have a character in your head who is clamoring to get out. You already know his or her entire backstory: where he/she was born, who were the parents, first loves, first broken bone, etc. etc. You also know how the character should grow during the story.
So far so good.
Then you start to write and the character ‘magically’ goes from being a hard-headed bitch (substitute bastard for a guy if you like) to someone who gets all emotional over the smallest thing. And it all happens in a few short chapters. Maybe even in a few paragraphs.
It happened to me in my book “The Goddess Renewed”. One of my protagonists, Paena (female, in case you’re wondering) is a major ice queen when she first meets my other protagonist, Kalten. She acts that way because Kalten is a soldier and soldiers were responsible for the massacre of her family. Makes sense so far.
I had intended for Paena to thaw to the point where she and Kalten are partners. Not lovers. Not two people who flirt, but two people who trust and depend on each other. I wanted Paena to discover who Kalten was and grow to realize that all soldiers are not murders.
Kalten comes towards Paena from the opposite direction. He doesn’t want anything to do with this harpy bitch who is making his life miserable. Unfortunately, he has no other choice but to work with her. Eventually I had hoped that he would see her as more than hard-boiled.
The problem I had was I knew these people inside and out. I knew how they would grow and I was too impatient to draw that relationship out. I let Paena change too quickly.
Fortunately for me, my first reader pointed out the problem. He told me that her abrupt change was unbelievable. That little slap on the wrist really helped me realize my mistake.
Every piece of writing advice mentions how you must give your characters their own ‘voice’. My mistake was changing that voice too fast.
If I were to be totally honest with myself, the mistake wasn’t purely due to impatience on my part. I have edited, written and rewritten this particular story so many times that I have lost track (at least a little) of where my character is in the evolution of their personalities. Now I know what to watch for and I know how to fix it. Watch out boys, the bitch is back!
I’ve hit a bit of a lull the past week. I did manage to get my second episode of “Get Published” recorded and posted. I’m pretty happy with the episode although I did experience an annoying hum in various places that I couldn’t edit out. I’ll try to avoid that next episode.
“Mik Murdoch” is still in front of a publisher and I’m still in the home stretch for the final (honest) rewrite of “The Goddess Renewed”. I’m in the process of researching a market for “Summer Camp Secrets” before I send it out.
I’m really excited about finishing the rewrite of “Goddess” because I have a couple writing projects that have been nagging me. The one I’m probably most excited about is my podcast serial SciFi Comedy. I know it’s going to be a LOT of fun to write and record. I may even be using guest voices. Stay tuned.
Have a fantastic week!