When we plan, we get to know our characters with every chapter of the book. We learn about the things they say and how they move, what their backgrounds are and the moments that defined them as people. Once we do that, writing the actual book should be a breeze! The better the bond, the better the memories of that relationship, right?
Right. But sometimes we don't take enough time to bond.
As of right now...eighty percent of my novel is a diffuse, jumbled mess because I don't know my protagonist well enough. I didn't take her out for dinner, figuratively and literally speaking. I didn't set a table for the both of us to sit down and talk like I did for my first protagonist before I started writing about him. Thankfully, the percentage of what doesn't make sense in book number three is quickly decreasing. It's just taken a lot of time and patience to get going.
It's been an interesting hurdle, this conscious effort to bond with my new protagonist. Getting her to open up and show me her burdens over chicken soup and bread rolls has been extremely difficult. But I certainly don't blame her! I know very well I wouldn't share my deepest, darkest secrets just because someone asked for them! But in order for me to be able to tell this protagonist's story well, I need her to open up. I need to know why she's so guarded. I need to know how she looks so calm on the outside but have so much emotional turmoil on the inside, and I need to know why she refuses to acknowledge another character, let alone fall in love with, whose impact on her as a person is particularly important in this romance novel.
Here, let me show you just how my two protagonists are proving to be near polar opposites of each other. They're their own beasts to deal with, I'm telling you. KEY: I'll refer to my main series' protagonist as Peter, and my current WIP's protagonist as Wendy. (Yes, I've been reading Peter Pan haha.)
Now. Peter loves everybody. He likes to play and see everyone get along. He's boyish, imaginative, but also very responsible. It was so healthy for me to write about him (almost two years ago!) because I tend to act like the character I'm thinking about most. I loved everybody when I was writing about Peter. It was great! But Wendy here? No. Wendy doesn't love anybody. Or at the very least, she doesn't show that she does. She's stubborn, blunt, and unforgiving of her own shortcomings. Writing about her is less healthy at times because I'm more impatient, angry, and afraid as opposed to when I'm not writing. It's very strange...
...but engaging. I like having dinner with my protagonists and learning about the kinds of people they are. I don't always know where they come from in my mind, but I adore bonding with them. I really do. You should give it a shot if you've been stuck with your novel. You just might find it helpful!
For the remainder of this entry, I'd like to share general things I've been learning about love. It's helping me develop the relationships between my characters (families, friends and lovers), so if you're circling around the topic with no clue what you're looking at, maybe this can make a few things click! :)
WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT LOVE SO FAR :
- Love can be unexpected and appear when we least expect it.
- It is not something we can run away from forever.
- Love is scary. But scary things are often things worth doing the most.
- It makes us realize things we never thought we knew we were missing in our lives.
- Love makes us dizzy.
- It makes love songs finally make sense.
- Love is accepting the other person for how they act on their best and worst days.
- It can't be forced.
- Love...is realizing no matter how much we treasure someone, if it is for the best, we should be willing to let them go.
I hate that last one, but it really does feel true. I just hope I never have to face that choice.
I imagine love will feel something like this if it ever happens.