Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Personality Conflict

Have you ever written a character you didn’t like? And I’m not talking villain here.

It’s all about the heroine, or the hero. In this case, both. I make no claims to know all there is to know about the craft of writing. Yes, I’m published, but that in no way means I’ve nothing left to learn. As taught to me by my current WIP (work in progress, for those of you having a wtf? moment).

They each have a job to do in your story, correct? What do you do if you don’t believe they can handle the task the story has set for them?

It took me awhile to come to grips with this. At first I balked and thought, nah, I created them. Of course they’re going to work it out. I justified their existence by telling myself I didn’t know them well enough. And kept writing. And I still wasn’t buying it.

The hero seemed weak, more of a nineties kind of guy, when what I wanted was more like knight-in-shining-armor wrapped in Pierce Brosnan.

The heroine couldn’t convince me she was a strong female role model, no matter how she tried. Simply going with the flow does not a role model make.

What to do, what to do. Um, uh, mmmmm. *light bulb* Rewrite! Yes. That will work.

It didn’t. And the third time it didn’t work either.

I looked at all the other story elements. Plot, subplot, supporting characters, setting, dialogue, back story, etc. Nada, zip, zero. It all seemed to work together, I could see where the story would go, knew the beginning, middle, and end. The problem still remained. I didn’t believe in my main characters. Nothing they did could suspend my disbelief.

I have to ask myself, did I run out of talent? Or is there an elephant in the room and I’m just not seeing it?

The choices are - ditch these two losers, or recreate them with the strength they need to carry on.

What would you do?


  1. Oooh. That's a toughie. Even after a rewrite... well, maybe it's time to take a break from them and go to the next story (or get real busy with REAL life and then the muse will probably wollop you upside the head with the solution).

    Best of luck! I am certain it is NOT a lack of talent!

  2. Oh yes! My biggest problem is bland or boring MC's.

  3. It's always great when stories come out in a flash, but sometimes they take a long time to brew. As Piper said, putting a troublesome WIP on the backburner is never a bad thing if you aren't comfortable with the way it's going. It gives you the chance to work on something else while at the back of your mind the troublesome sticky point brews. Yeah, it could mean another rewrite, or massive character overhaul, or maybe the answer will be something easier. But the important thing is, given time, an answer *will* come. I have faith in you! And if you need help thinking these characters through, please feel free to ask. I am here.