Plan B

Who is this?

Sometimes a character volunteers – just shows up and opens a vein on the page. The writing of them is almost magical, so fluid that it’s difficult to keep up as the scene unfolds and they behave and talk and feel and think like an actual person, outpacing our typing fingers. Let’s call this ‘Plan A’, in which ideas abound, writing flows, and before we know it it’s been a full productive day.

And then there are the characters who elude us, and the harder we try, the worse it gets – they clam up, take on qualities of other characters, begin to sound like us, repeat themselves, and generally make writing impossible.

This is when it’s good to have a plan B.

Shake things up.

Put that difficult character in an unlikely scene that has nothing to do with the story at all. Make them fight their way back to you – make them beg you to let them participate with the others.

Start with this line: “Better than a kick in the ass with a frozen boot.” Create a scene involving the character, in which they must negotiate and apply themselves in unfamiliar territory in order to get what they want. Incorporate this: “darker than the inside of a cow”, for good measure.

You’ll discover a lot about your character that will help you to understand them and animate them. Then, when they are ready to rejoin the others in the story, bring them back.

Try it.