Thursday, March 12, 2009

Character driving

I just spent hours and pages... character sketching.

Yes. I'm a third of the way through my novel and I decided I needed to devote a bunch of hours to writing character sketches.

I have this problem. I am a secret psychologist (it was my undergrad major), and so I have a primal need to understand my characters down to the most minute of details. I can't write a story without feeling like I have a really good grasp of my characters' fears, motivations, desires... but to an obsessive point. I sit around and document how they feel towards everything, everyone, what their issues are with everyone, and why they feel that way. My character sketches read like a psych reading on somebody. I track their whole history, and I need to make sure that everything matches.

And I CAN'T write without having this guide to their personalities, because otherwise I have NO IDEA how they'll act.

I'm a character driven person, not a plot driven person. I usually have little idea what they're going to say or do from one moment to the next, and so I rely very highly on having my characters dictate to me what they're going to do.

This works half the time, but right now it's a bit of a problem, because I have some key plot points that, for the life of me, I can't figure out. I seriously just don't know. And it's making me very very very stuck. Everything I write just isn't right.

In the meantime, fleshing out my character studies has made me realize how much stuff I've left out up til now that at some point I'm going to have to go back and add. But right now, all I want to do is GET THROUGH the damn thing so I know how it ends. Then I can go back and tweak and change everybody's personalities.

Argh. I just have no freaking clue. I think I need to do some research. Le sigh.

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