Friday, 2 September 2011

A LETTER TO MY CHARACTERS

Dear Characters,

Exactly what are you trying to tell me?

Speak up! I can't stand all this muttering you young people do these days - in my day people spoke their minds so everyone could understand them. I can tell that there's something going on. I can hear you whispering behind my back and I'm bright enough to notice that you always fall silent when I walk in. Just what is the problem?

I mean, here we are, 70% through this wonderful story which - I fully admit! - you've helped me with in the most generous way. The plot has developed in all kinds of interesting and unexpected directions thanks to your input, and so many exciting things are going on right now. We've been looking forward to this section of the book since we first started writing it together, and I thought we'd be skipping through fields of daisies, hand-in-hand, at this point.

But suddenly you've changed.

You're dragging your feet. You keep sighing and looking over your shoulder and finding excuses to stay just where you are in this flaming scene where we've been stuck for a week. Instead of witty banter you're giving me grammatically correct dialogue with all the spark and humour of oatmeal.

I just can't tell what you're THINKING anymore.

Obviously there's something you want to share. So come on - out with it! I'm happy to listen to any concerns you've got. You want to add something? Take a few steps back and handle that last bit of action in a different way? Make time for smooching or a blazing row? Whatever you want, I'll do it!

We've been such good friends for so long. I can't cope with this silent treatment. Talk to me again, that's all I want. I know that our relationship is strong enough to survive, so long as we keep communicating.

Just stop ignoring me. Please.

Much love,
Your Worried Author

25 comments:

Aimen said...

*copies letter and mails to own characters after a few minor changes*

I think this just made you awesomer xD

borky_qk said...

Wow. "I think this just made you awesomer xD" +1

I hope they send you a reply.

Zoë Marriott said...

Aimen: Thank you!

Borky: I want them to reply in the form of not making my life miserable this morning as I attempt to get to the end of this chapter.

Sarah Pearson said...

Aww, maybe they're dragging their feet because you're getting near the end and they don't want to leave you :-)

On the bright side, I just became your 300th member. (Didn't realise I wasn't already following!)

A.J. Mullarky said...

Ack, that must be very annoying.

And, !OMG! 300 followers, time to dye pink streaks!

Zoë Marriott said...

Sarah: No, I don't think it can be that. There are two more books featuring the same characters after this one. Maybe they've just realised that and they're rebelling at the thought of all that work. Also - 300 followers, woohooh!

Alex: I know! I can't believe how quick that was. I'm going to get them done properly, with permanent dye, so I need to make an appointment at the hairdressers. It might be a couple of weeks, but I'll take pictures when its done.

Lauren said...

I can so relate to this. My characters crack jokes when I want them to be serious, accidentally bond with their enemies, and keep realising things I don't want them to realise yet. When I told a friend about it, she said 'You're describing all this as though it's nothing to do with you'. Aaargh.

I'm kind of glad to read that a real published writer like you goes through similar stuff with her characters. It makes me feel less crazy.

I can't wait to hear whether this letter approach works.

Jenni @ Juniper's Jungle said...

Like Lauren I find this post really reassuring! I think my characters all stayed in Aberystwyth this summer, I'm looking forward to finding them waiting for me when I go back in a few weeks.

Becky Mahoney said...

HEEEEEE. Amen to this entire letter. Come on, characters - work with us here!

And to my own MC, I'd like to add: just because you're quiet and reserved doesn't mean you get to keep things from ME, okay. I'm the writer! I have to know what you're thinking!

Zoë Marriott said...

Lauren: The difference between a published and an unpublished author only matters to the author, I think - characters still torment us in exactly the same way!

Jenni: I'm hoping some Lake District scenery might loosen my characters tongues! Tho that's based on desperation, mostly...

Beckly: Ah, those peskly reserved characters. They take twice as long to get to know, and then you figure out that they're STILL keeping secrets from you! So frustrating.

Isabel said...

Stubborn characters! I know how you feel. Hopefully you guys will come to a compromise soon.

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel: Soon, I will resort to punishing them with cold showers and bribing them with chocolate.

Liz Kessler said...

Love the blog. V funny. When this happens to me, it usually means that I’ve gone off in a wrong direction somewhere with the plot and need to retrace my steps a bit.

Or sometimes it means that the characters just want a bit of down time without being pushed and nagged. I know it’s really painful and scary at the time and you think that they’ll never talk to you again, but they will – you just have to give them a bit of space.

I used to think that times like this were about being ‘stuck’ or ‘blocked’ but thanks to my wonderful friend Jen Alexander, who taught me about ‘the seasons of writing’ (ask me or check out my blog on this if you want to know more!) I just see it as part of the process now, and feel much happier to accept these times.

Do something nice – especially something that your characters would appreciate. Go see a matinee at the pictures or buy a lovely new notebook or spend an afternoon in an art gallery or something. Restock the well and leave them be for a bit – and trust them. They’ll come back when they’ve got what they need, and you may have to let THEM figure out what this is while you leave them alone for a few more days!

Good luck!

Lizx

Zoë Marriott said...

Liz: I read your seasons of writing post (when you first wrote it) and I was astonished by how familiar it seemed! This is definitely one of my wintry periods - I knew it was coming, because I've been working very hard on the book and making huge swathes of progress, and that can't go on indefinitely. With my sensible hat on, I know that I should give it a rest, read a bit, go for long walks. I know all that...but it might take me a day or two to accept it, because I really want to get on NOW. So basically, I'm my own worst enemy, and my characters are probably justified in ignoring me...

Isabel said...

Zoë: Hah! Now THAT would make some interesting reading...

Rebecca Lindsay said...

It's this "no-teamworking disease" that's been spreading around lots of characters lately lol :)
And WHOO! Pink streaks time!! LOL

shadow-hostage said...

I'm having this issue currently but my characters are just kind of looking at me with a "what now?" kind of expression. Apparently they don't know what to do either. So we're all stuck. -sigh-

Hope it all works out. Maybe it's time for a picnic. :)

chandra said...

Very insightful and straightforward.
Letters

Liz Kessler said...

Zoe - another thing Jen taught me: impatience is a form of resistance.

Really - go do something nice, for you, for your 'inner writer'. Your characters will thank you for it!

lx

Isabel said...

Holy crap 300 followers baby! :D:D

Zoë Marriott said...

Thank you Shadow and Chandra!

Isabel: Yep. I've already made my appointment at the hairdressers :)

Isabel said...

Zoë: Yayyy! I can't wait to see pictures :)

Raimy-rawr said...

I hope they started working with you after this letter Zoe! :( They better not drag their feet too much, I wanna read all about them soon!!!

Zoë Marriott said...

Raimy: Well, they're muttering in the corner now, instead of treating me to complete silence. So...we shall see :)

Megha said...

Hope it's better soon :P

<3

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