Monday, March 7, 2011

Who are these people and do they like bacon?

This being Monday and the new bloggity plan being to write about WRITING on Mondays...

I thought I'd chat about starting over.

Any of you that have finished a novel, REALLY in deciding to NOT do that 556th revision of chapter 22, or looking through the whole thing just one more time for those pesky adverbs and passive sentences.

YOU know what I mean. 

We live with our characters for probably a year or least in my case so far.  I wrote my latest book in seven months, and then spent the next eight months revising, querying, revising, querying, reading it over and over and over...  I know these people.  I know them intimately and thoroughly, and yes when I'm bored or driving or just by myself and no TV is on (or even when it is) I find myself in their world.  Long after the book was written.  Like creating little mini episodes in my head for my own private viewing.  It's a sickness that only other writers understand.  :)

They are easy to come back to...their words and thoughts and actions flow so freely.

Then we have to start...  
                              dum dum dum DUMMMMMM!

Another story.

And for me, I have to say, it's like dating.  Like breaking up a relationship, and meeting someone new.  Or maybe it's like moving to a new town....meeting all new people and getting to know them.  It's HARD. 

At least it is for me.  It's hard to get invested in these people I've only said hello to in passing.  I don't know them yet.  I don't know their secrets.  I don't know where they go at night.  I don't know how they take their coffee or if they like bacon.

Once I'm all up in it, it's okay.  But it's that initial walk-up.  That moment when you're moving into a new home, and you're in and out of the house bringing stuff in...and you see the neighbors milling around, mowing their grass, checking their mailboxes, doing things outside to accidentally-on-purpose check you out.  You see them, but you have to find the balls to go introduce yourself or wait forever for them to bring you that plate of welcome brownies. 

If you wait for them, they'll be all on their best behavior and have their zits covered up.  If YOU approach, you might catch a glimpse of something raw and real.  And you want that. So you have to jump in there and meet these people.

That's what I'm doing.  I'm starting my third book while my second is out on sub.  Getting to know these people before they can hide.  And it's HARD!  But I'm loving the exhilaration of it.

How do you get to know your new characters? 
How do you feel when starting a new story?


Travis Erwin said...

I write slice of life vignettes for all my characters. POV characters get half a dozen of these from different points in their life. Secondary character 1 or 2. I try to make them emotionally filled slices. that way I'll have a better idea how the character will react when stuff hits the fan in my book.

And doesn't everybody love bacon?

Amanda said...

I feel like I don't get to know my characters until after the first couple of chapters. That's why I love writing a series. I've been with my characters for the past two years. I know them like the back of my hand! ;)

ChristaCarol said...

I love this post! This is the stage I've been in....deciding, first, WHICH project to take on (sometimes I have competing WIPs and all the characters are fighting for my attention like kids in the midst of a divorce). Then, depending on my life (like now, way too busy to delve in head first so taking it slow) I begin the short or long process of getting to them (but it's all in my head). During drives, we talk. Before bed, we talk some more. It's my way of figuring out their real story, and where I'm suppose to lead them. Sometimes, when I'm mid-way through the manuscript and I think I've nailed them, they surprise me. I do something they don't want me to do, head the story down a path they don't like, and we have relationship issues...but once I figure out where the problem started, we tend to usually iron them out. After all, I could always kill them off so that's a nice thing to hold over their head when they don't want to cooperate. ;-)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I discover them as I write and that's a cool thing but it's also a scary thing: what if they don't do anything interesting *laugh*

Sometimes they'll do something that makes me go NOOOOO! oh no ... I just finished a chapter like that, where I didn't know someone was going to be killed until the accident happened. I was floored. I wanted to undo it and I knew I couldn't. So funny how the character's lives can mimic real life!

You'll get into this manuscript and then you'll miss these characters just as much. Then it'll be time for book 4!

Aisha said...

Lol- I thought I was the only one who felt this way- good to know I'm not alone :)

Amy Sue Nathan said...

I get to know my new characters in the shower. No, I'm not some literary weirdo, that's just where thing pop into my head -- somewhere between shampoo and rinse. Stepping away from a new story is what allows the characters to tell me about themselves. The other day I "realized" that one of the characters is going to break up with her boyfriend to have a baby on her own. Who knew??? She did!!!

Great post! Thanks.

Melissa Marsh said...

I always know a bit about my characters before I start. It really depends. Sometimes I do in-depth character sketches, other times I just dive right in!