When Real Life Affects Our Writing
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Happy Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day! A time to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness. We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too. A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!
Not too long ago, my critique partner shared some valuable insight about my writing with me. He said my main character needed to react to the situations happening around her. She needed to show emotions and let the reader know what was going on in her head.
It wasn’t until my rockin’ counselor asked how my writing was going that something clicked in my head. That light bulb went off as the words tumbled out of my mouth.
“I need to show more emotion,” I said.
My rockin’ counselor asked me to explain.
“Well, like, all this stuff happens to my character and she doesn’t say much about it. Like she’s just kinda rolling with everything…oh my gosh, that’s what I do. I turned my character into me!”
While that’s well and good that I made that discovery on the psychological front (and have since changed my ways), it sucks terribly on the writing front. Sure, I believe we write what we know but when it comes at the expense of shorting our readers, heck, ourselves, of a good story, well, that just stinks.
Just like I had to learn in my real life to share my emotions rather than trying to keep them in check, I have to go back and do that in my story. I have scene after scene where something major is unfolding before my main character and she just sits there like an outsider, not giving the reader a chance to know what going on her head.
As I go back and add her inner dialogue, I’m reminded of why this is so important. Character development. One of the reasons I loved Breaking Bad was how it took a normal, run-of-the-mill man then turned him into a bad ass, tough-as-nails drug dealer. Watching his character evolve from innocent to evil was what made that series such a success. Taking that journey with him was riveting.
That’s what I want to do with my character. Start her off as a typical young woman trying to find her way in life, then make the slow transition over to her toughening up as she works for the mafia. It’s been a slow process but it’s been a ton of fun to get back in her brain and play.
What important things have you forgotten in your first attempt at writing?