I’m stuck tonight. It’s no use fighting it. Inspiration is an insipid mistress, and I can’t keep her fancy for more than a minute. Tonight, I don’t even have that. So I’m running with it. I’ve been having trouble with an aspect of my writing that I’m sure every author struggles with. That is the problem of developing well rounded characters. Every character of mine seems, to my eyes, to be the same character. They’re all intelligent, they’re all thoughtful, experienced, and considerate. Witty at times, often sarcastic, and usually deep and well meaning and helpful. The problem is that I seem to be writing characters with the one voice that I hear in my head: my own voice. While I won’t go as far as to say I am all those qualities above, I will say that they represent the ideal character to my mind, and that writing outside of that is incredibly difficult. Both of my main characters share similar viewpoints and find themselves in very similar life situations, and I’m really getting worried that, even at this relatively early point in the novel, I haven’t given the characters enough life of their own.
I did some reading earlier to try and help myself out of this hole. I came across some character building exercises on a few different sites, but a quote by Neil Gaiman made me stop and wonder. He said, “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”
So, I’m going to do that. I’m just going to write, and write like I know how, with the confidence I feel in the world I’ve created, and hope that my intuition is right in guiding my decisions. The reception my book has received so far has been overwhelmingly positive, so I can only think that I’m doing something right. Or maybe my friends are all just really nice. I’m going to keep writing honestly, and in the best way I know how, and believe that somewhere in this confusion I’ll land on something approaching the truth—the truth of my characters, their lives, their stories—and it will resonate with readers and be successful.
Margaret Atwood added something sobering that I’ll finish with. She said, “Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.” I believe that’s basically true as well. And so while I’m not whining, it’s important to have a place to talk about these things. I don’t really expect you to help. You can be like the ceiling that I lie on my bed and talk to when no one else is there to listen.