Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The Insecure Writer and Character Troubles
Today is September's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.
Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?
Because of my characters.
Some writers need to know their characters inside and out before they begin writing, but that's not how it works for me. I’m a plot-first kind of guy, which means I’d rather tailor my characters to fit the plot then tailor the plot to fit the characters. So my characters start out as blank slates, their personalities and traits slowly coming to me over the course of the story as I learn which attributes would best accentuate the plot.
But even when I have my characters all figured out, I apparently have a problem portraying them. I received feedback from one of my critique partners this past week, and the thing that surprised me most was how much he disliked one of my main characters. Even though I was trying to portray the character as whimsical and funny, my CP thought the character was mean and a little creepy. Yikes!
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time one of my readers has come back with a perception of my character that was completely opposite of what I intended, and it's beginning to worry me. Part of the problem may be that I don't add enough internal thoughts to help guide the reader. Maybe it has to do with my whimsical writing style. Perhaps I just have no clue what I'm doing.
The very first time a CP didn't like my character (many years ago), I was able to fix the problem by changing only a single word. These days, I think it's going to take more work than that.
Has anyone ever misunderstood one of your characters?