Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Characters are on Strike

I write by the seat of my pants. That means I write with only a vague notion of where I’m going and how I’m getting there. I’d prefer to write another way—I’d like to be a plotter, someone who plots out their entire novel and all subplots before they put pen to paper. That’s the way that I live the rest of my life. Everything is planned, organized, and collated.

Now I am addicted to the creative rush, which happens when the plot finds me. When something or someone I hadn’t thought of takes over the story. That’s euphoric. But there is a dark side. Times when you have no idea what happens next.

Those times I round up my characters to have a cast meeting. I greet them cheerfully. They turn sullen faces to me. The problem with being an author is you dump your characters into really bad situations, and, well, they hold it against you. So when you ask them for a favor, they aren’t exactly cooperative. More like bitter. And blackly sardonic.

So now I’m in that dark place. My text has stopped flowing, and my characters are on strike. Right now, I’m trying bribery. I’ve tried dangling a kissing scene with Miranda under Mark’s nose, but he ignored that. I’ve offered him a taser and that got his attention, but so far he’s only eyeing it with his arms crossed over his chest.

We’ll see what happens. The taser is shiny and packs a nasty punch. But if that doesn’t work, I’m open to suggestions. What do you think might get my characters back on track?


  1. If the taser doesn't work, Luke's idea of TNT might.

    Thanks, Luke.

  2. Sometimes I'll throw a scene that comes later in, one they want, and tell them that if they don't work to get there, I'll just have to cut it. If you have ideas for that kissing scene, go ahead and write it... and threaten to take it away if they won't help you get there. ;)

    And if that doesn't work, write a really embarrassing end to that scene they really want (say, heroine's mom walks in on the kiss and starts giving hero advice on how to kiss better) and threaten to stick it in to final draft if they don't give you something better fast, before you become attached to the hilarious part.

    And yes, my characters have threatened to kill me in my sleep before. Which explains why my dreams are usually so weird.

  3. Juturna,

    I LOVE your idea!

    BTW, try sleeping with a taser on your nightstand--you can't really kill a needed character if they sneak up on you in the dark. But a serious jolt of electricity might make them think twice about authoricide.

  4. I can totally relate. I find I can plan somewhat, but if I plan too much it takes all the fun out of writing.

  5. When all else fails, chocolate is always the answer. I'm not sure how it would help Mark and Miranda...but it sure couldn't hurt! (And I'm sure it would help the author!)

  6. Wish I could help you, but I feel like I'm always having these sorts of meetings with my characters. Unfortunately for me, a lot of them are supernatural what-have-yous who think they're better than me. Sometimes letting them go on a brief vacation helps, though mostly that helps me. Haha.

    Good luck! When all else fails, drop them without warning into the sea and see if they sink or swim. :)

  7. Hm, taser... excellent idea! I'll have to see what I can dig up. Between encountering a bloodthirsty werewolf one night, fighting desert warriors the next, and barely escaping a collapsing cave the third, logic says you're right: my characters must be sneaking up on me in the night. Yes, taser's a good idea... I can only count on my subconscious to save me so many times!

  8. Oh, how I hate when that happens! Usually, I take a little break when that happens and *hope* they'll cooperate later.