Thursday, January 27, 2011

Can anyone find my Discipline?

This week, so far, has turned into a big fat fail in the writing department. I've used every excuse in the book to avoid sitting down and tackling the WIP.

I'm working on a MS for Presents, and fortuitously won a copy of Present's author Kate Walker's, 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance so that should have given me the kick in the pants I need to get a proposal off to the London office. But it hasn't. Then I just read on eharlequin that Desire is having another pitch session sometime in March. I also want to have something new to pitch an editor at the New York conference. So why have avoided writing? Every time I sit down in front of my computer I want to take a nap.

I think the problem is that because I'm writing something new and (even though I know the story) I don't actually know my character's "voice" yet. By the time I finished my last MS, I knew those characters so well I could just "speak" in their voices. In this new one my characters are sounding very generic and aren't popping off the page.

Hmm, I think I just figured out my problem.

I'm struggling to give these characters their own personalities. I know a lot about them but I haven't discovered what they would think about their current situation or how they feel about each other when they first meet. I haven't found their uniqueness - what makes them different from every other romance couple out there. In my last couple of stories, the H and h knew each other before the story started. They already had a relationship either as former lovers or old friends. They had a more familiar way of speaking.
So, I guess the only way to find that out is to dig into the story and continue to write until the mist clears and these characters start speaking to me.

Do you struggle with finding your character's unique voice?


Cat Schield said...

Sometimes those voices don't come out until the second or third chapter. Or even the 2nd draft.

As for avoiding writing, I'm not utilizing my free time as well as I should either.

Try writing stints. Set a timer for 5 minutes and go. Sometimes we're just afraid to get started.

And to help you get better in touch with your characters try journaling in their POV. Use first person. It helps get to the heart of them.

Michelle Helliwell said...

I've only written two MS to date, but I found it hard switching to my new characters. The old ones were so ingrained in my head.

I think it just takes time. A couple chapters, maybe even just a key scene. And it's a first draft, right? That's what it's for.

Jennie Marsland said...

I'm like Michelle. I got so wrapped up in my characters from the first book that I really had a problem creating new ones. With my WIP I'm having a problem really getting into the characters, though I love them. Last week I started a character file where I just ramble on about the characters. It's a help.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Cat, I think I'm going to do that. Just sit down at a coffee shop away from the computer and write from my characters POV to see what comes out. I might be trying too hard and putting too much pressure on myself to get it right.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Michelle, glad to know it's not just me.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Jennie, you too? I didn't realize it was so common. I may even write those first scenes in first person and then change it to third.

Julia Smith said...

When I'm doing NaNo and have no time to find the character's voices, I switch to first person and voila - it comes a lot faster that way.