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  1. Matt Z
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    Matt Z New Member

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    Getting too personally connected to characters.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Matt Z, Mar 4, 2013.

    I would consider myself to be a relatively good writer and I love writing. But I have a problem. Whenever I'm working on fiction projects I have a tendency to become so in tune and connected to my own characters (and sometimes even locations) that it stops me from getting anywhere.

    For example, a while ago I was encouraged to write a short story for a local competition, all sorts of people kept telling me I had a good chance of winning, and so I was feeling quite confident. After developing some characters and planning a plot I attempted to squeeze it into the word count limit, but when I was about half way through this process I started to realise that there was no way that X character would ever be in X situation and that he simply didn't fit there. I changed my initial plan and continued writing as my character wanted me to write (Am I sounding totally insane yet?) but I was still incapable of reaching any ending or conclusion.

    Several months later, the competition has long since finished and all the letters have worn away on my keyboard leaving me with a selection of blank keys, my short story has turned into an incredibly long novel, and to be honest, I suspect it's also a pretty **** novel. The problem is that I'm writing for myself, not for the reader. I've become far to attached to my character and although some sort of plot does remain, there's no way I could ever let it end. I've tried starting fresh with a completely new idea and different characters, but I keep giving up on it and going back to my previous piece of work.

    My theory has always been that most writers of fiction have some form of dissociative identity disorder, but anyway, my connection with my characters is the only thing that's standing between me and my chance of success. I don't want to stick to journalism, I want to write great stories and I want other people to read and enjoy them.

    Can anyone offer me some advice?
     
  2. Merineliza
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    Merineliza Member

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    One needs to see things from the character's point of view to write better. So, I think what you're doing is a great thing. One of my characters is just like me. And he reacts the exact way , I would. Why would you want that connection to wear off? Why would it stop you from writing?

    Atleast when I write, I try to become the character. Like in acting. I can't write any other way.
     
  3. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    I had the very same thing happen. Tried to write a haunted house story. My main character refused to break and enter. He was a likable fellow and very honest - which was what I liked most about him. Today, I would make him a side character and make the lead a complete jerk. I know this now because I made the lead of my book a jerk and it worked out very well. In other words, you simply had a casting problem, and just needed to recast your lead. If your characters are telling you the story they want to be in, you've done something right. Never ignore them and try to force them through the plot. Never hand the hero the idiot ball just so he falls into the villain's hilariously obvious trap.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The particular story you're telling does have to end. But who says the character has to end? Unless your story requires that you kill him (which is something that many authors have a hard time doing for the very reason you describe), you can finish the story, but you can write others until the end of time starring that character either to share with others, or just for yourself.

    I ended up writing 3 novel-length stories with the characters I created because I liked spending time with them so much. I still think about them way too much, and yes, I do wonder if it is insane that now I've gotten myself some imaginary friends. So you don't have to stop being with these wonderful folks you've created, just because the particular tale involving them had to end.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Remind yourself that characters are nothing more than a literary tool created to convey a story to a reader. While they the created characters may many attributes and act/perform like real people within the pages of a novel, they are not real people, and never will be.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I'm not sure your problem is connection with the characters as much as not paying attention to the story they're in. As chicagoliz said, you don't have to quit writing about the characters - but you do have to make the current story come to a conclusion. One of the first stories I wrote could, realistically, have been two, possibly three separate ones. It wasn't because of the characters - it was because I hadn't learned not to ramble, to not follow every tangent. Remind yourself that you can, indeed, write more than one book, even if you keep the same characters.
     
  7. Piankhy
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    Piankhy Member

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    I used to have that issue with my earlier projects. I solved my problem by giving my MC's a trait that I didn't like about them. That way I wouldn't have a guilty conscious about doing whatever I had to do to them for the sake of the story. That's why I tend to like reading stories about douchbags and jerks because whatever happens to them in the novel......I don't care :)
     
  8. iWant iStrive
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    iWant iStrive Member

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    I tend to be the opposite and force my will on characters. Sometimes they end up doin things that dont seem natural but I usually change the scenarios or external factors to bend them to my will, rather than let them roam loosely. Feel like I should be laughing manically while saying that :p
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hey, my characters are real. ;)

    I'm with Matt, my characters are alive for the moment. They have to be or the story would fail. I write a scene after acting it out in my head, usually while I'm walking my dogs. It helps because you act something out and you can see, "no, they'd never do that, they'd do this instead". It's a s writing style that's working for me but I'm sure there are lots of different ways people work their stories through.
     
  10. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    I advise finishing it. An end will give you closure; the story has finished, and the character lives on in their own little universe. If you really wanted to revisit them, you could always write them into a little private story.

    In all seriousness, I cried for about three hours after killing a character. Though I was going through a weird phase at that time so perhaps that had something to do with it, but your experience is by no means unique :)
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I also cried when I killed a character. I was quite worried about my sanity. But, if you must, you can write all you want about the character before he or she dies.
     
  12. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    If you really want to go crazy with it, think of yourself as their god and you toy with their lives for yours and other's amusement. MUAHAHAHAHA!!!
     
  13. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Shadow's right about being able to separate things to tell more than one book with the characters. However, I also believe there are 'method writers' like there are 'method actors.' I am one. I can get very engrossed with my character's and their world and hate to walk away when it's time to do so. But that's me.

    Characters, if they're truly going to have life, come from the heart of the writer. If they don't match you in some way (and it doesn't mean they have to be LIKE you) then they'll feel cardboard and wooden. Hemingway is famous for saying that writing is easy, you just sit down and bleed. What he means by that is what you write, and the characters you create, come from what's inside you, the writer.

    Writing a brutal character and you're not a brutal person? I'll bet money the character will be wooden-because it's not you.
     
  14. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I actually killed a character I had for almost thirty years. Honestly, I was glad to see her go when I did.
     

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