Connecting With Characters

Hey! with the craziness of work, wedding planning, and everything else going on, I feel like I haven’t talked to all my blog people in quite some time. I was very lucky to have some wonderful bloggers share their thoughts here at WTP, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

But, now I have returned to talk to you about a problem I’m having. As many of you know, I recently published my novel “London Darkness: Infernal Inventions.” Yay! Right? Of course I’m very excited about that. Well, as I stated in a previous post, I’m taking a small break from that series to work on a new trilogy. The “Bone Digger Trilogy”. I was very, very excited to start it and I was able to write the first three chapters of it. But, as of late I’ve had very little inspiration to write. I don’t know if maybe I’m just burned out from working so much, and feeling the economic pressures of the wedding coming down on me, but I do know that I don’t think I’m connecting with one of the characters in the book very well.

Her name is Kiara. And she’s a Demonologist. Now, you may be thinking How can you not connect with someone who studies demons? That sounds so cool! Well, I wish I knew. I had no problem introducing her and having her interact with Bone, the main character; but, something has happened. I don’t know if I just lost my connection with Kiara, so know I don’t really know how to have her act and react to the plot. I’ve also got a lot of notes written down about where I want the story to go, but for some reason I’m just having trouble getting it written out. I’ve only been writing 100 or 200 words a day; and, while I hate to admit it, some days I haven’t written anything at all.

So now I’m hoping to find a way out of this funk. I think my best option may be to read over what I have so far so I can get back into the characters. I like where the story itself is going, and I rather like just how much of a fantasy aspect I’m putting into it. The inspiration to write just isn’t there, and I’m putting some of the blame on Kiara. I’m at the point where I’m describing her past, and what events led her to where she is now, but I just don’t really know. I have a basic idea, but I’m stuck. I think it may help if I jot down notes about her past life. Her family, their life together, and basic details like that.

That felt like quite a rant. Anyway, I’m hoping to figure this thing out pretty soon.

Has this happened to you? Have you had trouble connecting with characters? What have you done to get out of a writing slump?

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13 thoughts on “Connecting With Characters

  1. I have definitely had that problem, including with my current project, my Necromantic trilogy. It was a similar cause too. One of my characters, Seralin, had no clear reason to be there and doing the things I knew she needed to do. I ended up sitting down one evening and asking myself a lot of questions about why she was in the same town as my main character, Devan, what she wanted from him, why she thought it was okay, all of that. In the end, I used an old writing prompt that had helped in the past. Exploring as your character, write from the prompt “I never expected…” I wrote it as her looking back from about halfway through the novel. Damn if it didn’t clear up most of my questions and suddenly I had two subplots I didn’t even know about before that.

    I think the reason it worked was that it made me sit there, open to her voice. It let her whisper her secrets to me, so I knew how to write her and where she fit in the grand scheme of the story. It also told me where the trilogy will end, oddly enough.

    I don’t know if it’ll work for you, but exploring things like why she studies demonology, what leads her to be invested in the plot and how it affects her might help. My experience in my own writing is that when my output dwindles to almost nothing and writing becomes painful, either the story or, more often, an important character are resisting me because I’m not doing something right. That’s why I stop to listen to them.

    • I think this is a great idea. I plan on doing some exploring of her character; mainly the parts that influenced why she wanted to study demons in the first place. Thanks!

      • You’re welcome. I do suggest to being open to whatever comes though. Some of my best plot twists, extras, or just plain inspirations came from the thing I didn’t expect to explore, from those background bits of characters that I didn’t think would matter. 🙂

  2. Hi Chris,
    When this happens to me, I take a break. I know that might not be the recommended action, but I wait for the story or the character to speak to me again. It can be difficult to be patient, but I find that what I try to force myself to write when I just don’t want to write ends up deleted anyway. Don’t worry, your muse will return.

    • I agree completely. I wrote this post yesterday and scheduled it for today, but after I wrote it I was actually able to get close to 1,000 words written. Whether or not I’ll keep them remains to be seen.

  3. It certainly has happened to me. It sounds almost like there are two issues challenging you right now. Stress can affect us in any number of ways. It sounds like you are under a great deal, some of it happy (wedding, YAY!) and normal (work) and some self-imposed (writing). Now, I am essentially guessing here, so maybe this isn’t even applicable. I would suggest engaging in some stress reducing activities. Ease up a bit here and there, where you can. Secondly, a change is as good as a rest, so why not step back from the main work of Bone Digger and kick around a flash fiction or short story. Pick a seminal moment in Kiara’s life prior to or after (if possible) the events in the main story. Explore that. Maybe (cliched as it is) the afternoon she discovered an intrest in Demonology. I like to think of flash and shorts as speed training in running. Short, quick bursts of speed that over time help condition you for the longer run. Don’t Panic. This sort of thing happens frequently. I suspect any honest writer will admit to having the same issue. I got stuck at the end of a novel and set it aside (for quite a while now) because I lost direction. I may get back to it, when I feel like I have a fixed direction for it. Until then, I am plugging merrily away at other projects. Hope this helps.

    • Some flash fiction is a great idea, actually! I remember when I was working on my short story compilation was one of the times when I felt most inspired to write.

      And I know all about speed training, haha. I ran cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track all through high school. That may be just what I need in this case.

  4. This might be radical, but what about just skipping the part where she explains her back story? I know that it helps explain who she is, her motivations, etc., but if it’s not integral to the current plot, couldn’t you just leave it blank and come back later? That way you can get on with the story and then flesh Kiara out when you have a better idea of what you’re doing with her.

    • I did manage to get some of her back story written out. It’s not necessarily essential to the main plot, but does provide some basic fuel for some future events. But that is a good idea that I could potentially use if this happens again. Thanks!

  5. Hi Chris:
    HOpefully this doesn’t sound too off the wall to you…but what might work is talking to Kiara… Yes, your character. EIther do it in your head or imagine her sitting in a chair across from you. Interview her and find out what’s not working. Your imagination will kick in and Kiara will respond and you’ll be back on track. It works for me!

    • I’ve actually thought about doing this before. It does seem like it would be an effective way to explore a character. I’ve thought about doing it for the main character in the book I just published and posting it on my blog. Just as a fun thing to do. I may explore this further. Thanks!

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