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What To Do When Your Characters Ignore You

30 March 2016
 March 30, 2016
Category: Uncategorized

Ever have days when you feel like you’re on the outside of your writing project, looking in? When it seems impossible to connect with the characters in your story?

 

“I’m over here!” you want to shout. But they’re looking the other way, chatting with each other in indecipherable voices. The harder you try to listen, the further away they move.

 

You stand there, watching them, angry. “Hey, I MADE YOU!” you scream (in your head, of course, because you’re a neurotic writer.)  They look back and snicker and pull out their cigarettes and start smoking and drinking what look like amazing cocktails.

 

You want to hang out with them again. They make you feel loved. They make you feel happy. They KNOW you. But just for today, they treat you like dirt.

 

You want to tell them how much you’ve sacrificed for them. How much you’ve given of yourself. And when you start to get teary, how much you love them.

 

You can try to force them to do and say things, to connect with you, but trust me, you’ll throw those pages away. The people in your books or films are like children. They go through periods of infancy and total dependence, and others (usually in their teens) where they refuse to speak to you.

 

On days like this, you have to give them their space. The reason they’ve moved away from you is good– you’ve raised to them to leave home by making them three-dimensional, and their walking is away is how it should be. What you wanted in the first place.

 

You can no longer control them because they are REAL.

 

And you gave them that. You made it happen.

 

They still need you, of course. They’re not quite finished. But they also crave alone time, to percolate, grow.

 

What if you gave them some room?

 

What if instead of making them do things, you followed along to see what they do?

 

What if you stopped being whiny and controlling and just watched? Could you find things out about them that you didn’t even know? Could they say things or lead you to places you never imagined?

 

Take Action: Let your “teenaged” characters go! Let them screw up and make mistakes. Let them smoke those cigarettes and drink those cocktails and see what happens. Their ignoring you is part of their growth and development. When your characters refuse to do your bidding, this is good. It means they have minds of their own.

 

Could you be an excellent parent, and relinquish control?

 

Could you let them flourish?

 

xo Pat

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