Characters-the love/hate relationship

So NaNoWriMo is finally over…

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Now, we can all stand up and stretch, sleep, eat, leave the house, all the things we forsook in the name of writing. Go outside and enjoy the crisp autumn air and walk off Thanksgiving feast to make room for the Yuletide.

And I finished!

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After we exterminated the enemy that is self-doubt and self-conciousness

…Is what I would like to say.

I don’t know about everyone else but I couldn’t complete it. Oh, I have plenty excuses from homework to the stomach flu to writer’s block, but I won’t use ’em. Like Yoda said, “It’s do or do not, there is no try”. Just gotta shrug it off and get back in the ring (training montage anyone?).

Good news is I made some interesting discoveries about my characters. My best friend and I had a conversation yesterday about characters and how they love to run the show.

I’ve heard people talking about how characters can take over a story. That’s so silly, I thought. You’re the writer, you’re the one in control…at least that’s what I used to think. It is a funny thing when characters take on their own life, once they cease being ink and words on a paper (or screen).

There are so many instances, I want to yell at my characters. Why did you do that? You’re not following the outline! I yell as I angrily slap the paper. There are rules you know.

For the most part, I feel like I’m dealing with teenagers, maybe some rowdy toddlers. They do want they want.


 

My favorite part of writing is discovering my characters. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I’ve discovered a lot about them. For instance, one character that I didn’t like, Viveka, is now close to my heart. She was supposed to be the mean girl trope, harpy-like but she is also kind underneath that posh exterior. I feel bad that I never bothered to get to know her, she isn’t just some little rich girl who has had life handed to her, she’s had to fight for her happiness and struggle with her power (it’s a magical story, pun intended). I like her so much now, she went from a single chapter character to becoming the companion to the protagonist (at least for a while).

The second character goes by the name Cenwig (I pronounce it Sen-vig). I guess going in, he was a bookish little fellow, fighting for knowledge and other noble causes. Turns out, he’s really a big jerk, who loves solving a mystery/challenge regardless of who gets hurt. Re-reading his part, I’m so shocked how much his initial character changed.


 

Last semester, in my writing class, we had to write a conversation we had with one of our characters. The story I was writing at the time was Mine, which really only had three major characters, Trygg, Toril and the Grimm. I chose Trygg, as he was the main protagonist. I had to scrap the paper several times, because every time he tried to kill me…

It was very disconcerting. I felt like Alan Wake running from my characters in sheer terror, stumbling through darkened woods, cringing at every shadowy crevice.

When I voiced my concerns, the professor laughed. I had made progress, she said.

Thanks, I guess?

Trygg still hates me. He’s like the hamster I had when I was nine: cute but will chew through my hand whenever I pick him up, steals my candy, hates being caged, the usual hamster business.

Ham-ham time!
Why can’t they all be like Hamtaro? 

I also found a method to the madness and will be totally prepared for next year (yea right). Everyone works differently, but I’ve found that I work best when I write in short bursts (20-30 minutes). It would be ideal to continue the routine [write-break-repeat] all day but of course that’s unreasonable when Responsibility is at the door with a shotgun.

Does anyone else have a special routine or method that keeps them writing? And how do you balance writing in your life?

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