1. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Getting in touch with my MC

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ShalaylaW, Oct 23, 2015.

    So I've been currently told that my MC's dialogue doesn't always quite match the narration from her thoughts, for it's from her point of view. I've always had trouble matching the two, and really getting in touch with my characters and how they speak, for I seem to just have this inner voice of my own that overpowers everything when writing.

    It's also quite difficult for me to stop narrating in the way I do, due to the fact I'm writing about a completely different planet and I'm trying to be all visual but I'm forgetting to make it HER descriptions, the way she would think of it.

    She's a very emotional character for me, but I just can't seem to channel that emotion and make her whole in thoughts and dialogue and make her truly believable. Any suggestions on how to do this without a ton of editing?
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Idea:

    1) figure out what the narration style would say about the kind of person the MC is

    2) figure out what the dialogue style would say about the kind of person the MC is

    3) write the MC as somebody who's naturally the kind of person reflected in the narration, but who's trying to force herself to be the kind of person reflected by the dialogue

    4) add a few "mistakes" here and there where the character's dialogue accidentally matches the narration, but then narrate her catching herself and wishing she'd said it a different way
     
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  3. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Ah :) I had to read that a couple of times, but I think I understand that those points would make it more natural. The first two would help me realize how I need to make the dialogue and narration match by understanding what kind of character I want to portray, and the next to points would help me tweak it to make it more believable. Thanks! I appreciate it
     
  4. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    I don't talk, or think like my current POV character. He's a little racist, rude, lewd, and very rough around the edges. To help me get into the whole thing, I originally wrote it in dialect imagining the whole thing in my head, and then my character telling me about it.

    That's not easy, and it rarely happens for me. I've had only three characters, in anything I've written where that's happened naturally, and I've strongly hated the first two.

    This time when it happened right off the bat, I decided NOT to force them to shut up, not to try to kill the guy off, and basically just to NOT fight him. Even though he isn't my MC.

    I've also started to write more in first person, allowing me more access to those characters, in fact all my characters, even though I normally don't write that way. You might try it just to see what it's like if you don't normally write in that style. It changed my writing a lot. It's become much grittier.
     
  5. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not necessarily ;) Narration reflects who the character is, dialogue reflects who the character tries to be. If you deliberately mismatch the two, then that says something different about your character's self-confidence than it would if the two matched.

    Example: let's say that you've looked at the number of "I" and "me" sentences that the character uses versus the number of "you" and "we" sentences.

    Somebody who uses more "I/me" sentences in both narration and dialogue is somebody comfortable focusing on herself.

    Somebody who uses more "You/we" sentences in both narration and dialogue is somebody comfortable focusing on others.

    Somebody who uses more "I/me" sentences in narration, but who forces herself to use more "You/we" sentences in dialogue and who gets mad at herself for speaking even a single "I/me" sentence aloud, is somebody who is very uncomfortable with how much she focuses on herself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I try to keep myself out of the equation and use words I know are more linked to the character than me.

    For instance a beautiful metaphor has no meaning to a yokel who doesn't recognize beauty so I have to let that part of me go.
    I will even dismiss certain words or phrases if I feel they don't work with the mc's gender, status, age etc.

    I also have to own up that certain things aren't going to fly. If my characters are abrupt and too the point the prose can't be overly languid.

    1. I try to describe things that will catch my mc's eye. If it's unlikely that my mc would notice it then I don't describe it.
    2. I filter the descriptions through my mc's personality - although I use caution, I don't want it to sound like a bunch of dated slangy exclamations - this planet is swaggy! Or encourage unintended bigotry - these alien's got fat asses.
    3. I look to my mc to create a mood for the scene. If the mc is feeling upset the words I use shouldn't be chirpy or upbeat. If he's under pressure he's hardly going to notice things that don't relate to his problem at hand.

    I try to keep everything fluid - scene shapes characters shapes scene.
     
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  7. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    I read your story where this critique was made. So I understand your dilemma. I prefer to write my MC in first person too. I am no expert, but here are some things I have done, and maybe it can give you an idea of what you can do.
    I've written an MC with a very limited knowledge of technology. So if she is shown a computer for the first time, let's say, I'll have the narration be something like the following:

    When I entered the room, I saw a desk with a young woman sitting behind it, a black square on a stand in front of her face. Her fingers were moving fast on a flat panel like object, but I couldn’t understand what she was doing.


    Then I would just continue on with the story, hoping the reader knew what I was talking about, and also staying true to my MC.

    I could be completely wrong with this, due to my limited writing education... so if anyone else want to correct me, I'm open to it!
     
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  8. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Yeah I completely understand what you're saying. It's very difficult for me to seperate myself from my character even though I didn't base it off of myself whatsoever. It's my writing style that completely takes over, and I constantly feel like I make her narration what I would think, and her dialogue what she would actually say.
     
  9. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Then just employ the hidden narrator technique and be that commentary - it is a valid technique.
     
  10. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Haha! That's crazy because I actually have a similar scene later on. She encounters a space probe and is completely terrified and mystified. See, some parts I get bang on, and others feel so awkward. I think I just need to really understand what my MC means to me and just have more determination to better my writing.
     
  11. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Not quite understanding, sorry.
     
  12. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Uh... I really cannot explain it well. I am a bad teacher, but looking up different styles of narration would be a starting point.
     
  13. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I've never had this issue. Only because when I write I become my characters, truly. Voice acting, gestures and all.

    Have you tried fully immersing yourself in your own story and describing what you see from the inside? Sounds weird but it makes a lot of sense
     
  14. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    It doesn't sound weird. I can do it temporarily, that's why in some parts of my story she's complete in thought and dialogue. But when I'm forcing myself to write, just to get words down on the page, it doesn't match up. But if I wait for every time I'm in the mood to write, it'll never get done.

    But that's an entirely different issue, one I gotta figure out myself. I can immerse myself in my story, but only when I'm quite inspired. Maybe I just am too unemotional about my characters. Or unemotional period haha thank you for your input nonetheless
     
  15. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    It becomes something you can flip on and off like a light switch, but you are not always going to get a willing voice. Sometimes they refuse to talk to you, but it is a practice thing. Also, one character only appears on my right peripheral vision - walking behind me, the faintest outline of her head just beneath my right arm. Her golden hair with six bangs, and several trailing ribbons, outstretch ears and a very serious look even when discussing humorous subjects. She berates, but cares enough to involve herself in my habits and will sometimes wait patiently.. even if she puffs out her cheeks in anger.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  16. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    You will first have to get it in your head that in-depth editing is in your future. No way around it. Second, leave the writing as it is. Stop fretting over what you've already written. Third, sit still and be her! Now choose a scene and begin writing what she's thinking. Keep writing until you run out of things to say for that scene. Then go back and forth, in and out of that scene from the beginning of it to the end. Ask yourself, does this fit the scene.

    What I've just asked you to do is to take the novel apart by scenes, like you would do if writing a play. Like a snap shot.

    You will never be able to tackle this as a "whole." You must go frame by frame until her thoughts are incorporated. IF you find that the narrative voice does not fit the character, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. But you will be in a better position to decide once you get inside her head place her thoughts on paper.

    You and the MC must become one. When that happens, your issues will minimalize.
     
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  17. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Thank you, I'll try my best :)
     
  18. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    If it's ok, I thought of another suggestion, but this may not work for everyone.

    You had mentioned writing an emotional character is hard at times. I find emotion is always a huge part of the story. You want the reader to be really into everything going on, including the emotions. Sometimes I'll be writing a scene where my MC is angry, and I just can't get into it.. so this is what I do: I listen to mood appropriate music.
    For me, this really works. I use an app (not sure if I'm allowed to say it's name), it lets me pick music based on a mood and I can choose whatever mood is right for that part of the story, be it angry, or happy, or sad. One time I was writing that my MC was being told that their love interest just died. I was in a good mood when I started writing, so to get into the story, I started playing really sad songs (i.e.: Say Something by a Great Big World) leading up to that moment, and then after, and as I wrote, I found myself in tears as I expressed my MC's emotions.

    Anyway, just another suggestion to help with writing your characters' emotions. Hope it works for you as well as it works for me.
     
  19. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    I actually do use that method :) not that app, I'll just make a playlist.
    Though I haven't used it on her yet, haven't found songs that match her. Perhaps I'll do that. I always love it when people mention music as a solution, for it's the first thing I usually go to.
    Thanks :)
     
  20. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    Making a playlist relies on your own music library. This app actually lets me to listen to other music outside my own collection, which consists of over 15,000 songs. So, it's not that I lack in selection on my own, but this app provides me a huge learning experience in songs that may not necessarily play on the radio. Sometimes the genre or the mood will include film scores. Not that your story will be a movie, but sometimes the music for a movie helps with the setting, or mood in my story. I've done playlists with my own music and sometimes, as you said, had trouble finding the right music for my character. So that's why I've found this app helps sometimes.
     
  21. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Well it sounds helpful I suppose. I just don't have access to the internet all the time (if it relies primarily on internet)
    And I always listen to music from movies and whatnot :) it's very helpful and infinitely more dramatic sounding.
     

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