Aug 26, 2011

Proactive Characters

I've decided I have a problem making sure my characters lead the charge. I tend to come up with interesting scenarios, interesting characters, and then just expect that whatever is needed to make the story happen will naturally be there. And then when I try to think of scenes required to tell the story, nothing happens. I get no scenes.

This happened with versions 1 and 2 of my submitted Medical, working title: Inconvenient Virtues. It wasn't until I realized I needed the heroine to have an immediate, tangible goal(not just an overarching goal) that the scenes started to materialize for me. Taking her from reactive to proactive gave me all my major scenes inside of three minutes. Once that first domino to fall, the others fell accordingly. Easily.

I knew this going into the current WIP. It was at the foremost of my mind when I was trying to pre-measure all my needed ingredients(character motivations, inciting incident, etc), and I thought I had it. I wrote the first scene and it was catchy enough, but it didn't lead me to any other scenes. Yesterday, while not thinking about it, had a lightbulb moment -- she still was not leading the charge. That realization knocked over that first domino and 20 more scenes materialized in the space of a handful of minutes. So, today I feel really excited about the writing. I have my roadmap(cards) prepped, and it's just a matter of building and writing the scenes. The fun part.

The advice to make your characters proactive has been given to me numerous times before. I even have read it in a few craft books. But I'm having trouble recognizing I when I haven't done that(before banging my head on the wall about why it's not working). I guess I should be happy that the realization took 3 days this time instead of 8 months. That's gotta be improvement, but I'm still dismayed that although making her proactive was at the top of my list of things to do before I started writing, I somehow managed to mistake her long-term goals for short-term goals again.

Does anyone else have this problem?

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