I am getting a little bit bored with the narrative ‘life-story’ of my characters now. It was interesting to begin with, but now it is increasingly frustrating to have to know the details about how they would react in certain situations when those circumstances may never appear in the novel. I really just want to be able to get on with writing it: but I still haven’t reached the point in my protagonist’s story where her future behaviour is explained sufficiently for me to really communicate any understanding of it.
In order to try and maintain some momentum and reinvigorate my motivation I decided to take a more methodical approach. I always find that when I am lagging and losing interest in things if I alter the means by which I am tackling the task I become more involved in it and more capable of completing them. So, I decided to chart my character’s thoughts and feelings throughout their life in a table. Yes, it sounds ultimately dull and unimaginative, however it is enabling me to properly understand my character’s motivations and interpretations of events within the novel.
I’ve started with a basic overview: Event – Feelings – Thoughts – Other Notes. Then, I fill in the blanks based on each major event that occurs in the life of that character. How did they feel at the time – Happy, sad, frustrated or confused, or a multitude of conflicting emotions? What did they think – how did they make sense of what had happened, how do they see the situation? Then, in the other notes section I summarise my own take on it, how it might contribute to the overall plot, what other character’s might feel/do in response, if there is a link that needs highlighting.
I’m not sure how much it is going to help me in the long run, but it has got me focused back on the task of getting to know my characters – even if I am going over old ground listing the events I already know about, rather than ploughing ahead with the more complex happenings I’m been stuck on. The good thing is that once I’ve done it then I will have something to refer back to, to build on, to remind me of what I envisiged for each character when I was at this point in the planning process. It will probably take quite some time, but it is worth doing I think. The way I see it is that: No one said it was going to be easy. If it were easy we’d all be doing it, but I want to be one of the ones who at least attempted the challenge of it all.