If there’s one thing I’ve learned while writing, is that sometimes things just don’t turn out as you plan them. Back in the spring of ’13 I had this cool idea for a book. It came from a song, I shall not say which one, and had to do with a princess from another world, living in ours with no memory of this shadow she’d come from. Sort of Alice in Wonderland-ish.
I started writing the first few chapters, and the thing just fell flat. It was an empty can that I kept kicking up and down the street, just as hollow as you please. Finally, I took a step back from the project. That’s not hard to do when you’re a ‘pantser’ as I have been up to this point. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the hell was wrong with this story, or rather, wrong with me with this story. I could put words down, but there was no life.
And then one day it hit me. I am the director of this story, yet I was letting the wrong type of characters be cast. My MC was not a princess, or even a girl. My MC was in fact a boy. He happened to like other boys, though at the time of the casting he’d not yet had his first real crush. He just knew who he was, even though I didn’t. After that, it just worked. I wrote the book in less then four months, and I loved writing it. I’d never written anything featuring a gay character, but, well, I love this kid. He knows exactly who he is.
I’d heard often about how characters can take over a story, or a plot, and just go off on their own little adventures and screw up all your hard work. I’d never really thought the same thing could happen with an entire character, when you had this perfect role set aside for them. Now when I’m figuring out who is going to be who in my stories, I take a few steps back and really give them the eye.
It’s just something to think about if you’re struggling to get those words that are formed so brilliantly in your mind to translate to the blank page–are your characters cast in the correct roles? Maybe that lack of inspiration has nothing to do with you. Maybe that nerdy girl secretly wishes she was a quarterback.