When the Voices Talk Back
by Marie Lavender
If you’re a fiction writer, then the term ‘voices in your head’ takes on a whole new meaning. Most of the time, a character is there to lead you through his or her story. You may get detoured by research or promotion of other books, but you’re usually following the muse.
Have you ever been stuck, though? You wrote yourself into a corner or you just can’t tell what happens next. We all know the term ‘writer’s block’. The nightmare of nothing concrete coming to you for the foreseeable future is a bit paralyzing. Sometimes, however, it’s not true writer’s block that caught you in its web. At times arrogance brought you here.
“What, Marie? Are you off your rocker again?”
LOL. Not quite.
Remember your glory days, when you were humming along on the rhythm of a storyline? At some point, you decided to do some plotting of your own. You left your characters behind, forgot to consult them about these ‘supposed changes’. Suddenly, the main character is standing on the sidelines, refusing to play the game. He or she is muttering expletives or shouting, “Writer, don’t you need me anymore? Don’t you love me?”
It’s true. A certain degree of affection has to take place for a writer to respect characters enough to write about them. Maybe a beta reader saw the issue and noted a section of the prose seemed stale or forced. We all stumble into this at one time.
So, what’s the solution? Listen to your characters. Always listen, even if the detour they’re proposing could mess up the storyline. It doesn’t hurt to listen. Why? Because they often have some valid points.
Character A wouldn’t take your proposed action. It goes against his moral code, or just isn’t a part of his personality. This is barring the idea of consistent inconsistencies in fiction (for example, a character who is afraid of swimming yet still takes long baths), but sometimes we try to force a character to do something he or she wouldn’t. Not to make them grow as people, but to make them puppets to our whims. Want that character to do what he normally would not? Give him a reason, a plausible excuse. Or better yet, ask the character where to go with the story. Obviously you’re not going to start talking to voices that aren’t there. You’ll earn the big eyebrow from your spouse or kid.
But you should listen to what your characters have to say.
What are your instincts telling you about this character? Listen and you won’t be disappointed. Often minor characters will pop up with their own stories. That just gives you a reason to learn more about them, even write other books in the future. Decide if their interference relates to the story in question. Listen; don’t be a dictator with your characters. Who knows? Maybe they’ll have something important to add. I do advise you to know all you can about your main characters. Do a character worksheet or two.
Case in point, while I was writing Upon Your Love, the last book of the Heiresses in Love Series, I did some heavy plotting. In the midst of it, I forgot to ‘listen’. I kept running into roadblocks. When I finally opened myself up to what was there, I realized something bigger was happening in the storyline. Not only did the main characters’ stories need to be told at a deeper level, characters from the previous books in the series came to me, asking for a spotlight. They had more to say. Suddenly, it made a weird kind of sense to not only have a historical romance, but also a family saga as the story.
Everything fell naturally into place from that point. I stopped fighting my characters. I listened. And I don’t regret that for one moment.
Listen to your characters. Perhaps they have significant parts of the plot to contribute. Believe me, you may not like relinquishing control at first, but you’ll end up growing as a writer because of it. Never forget that a character has a lot to offer, to you as the author but also to readers. Without your characters, there is no story. Just a set waiting for the actors to step on stage. When they finally do, they can show the audience who they are and what they’re willing to fight for.
So, offer your characters the respect they deserve…open your heart and mind, and listen.
Guest Blogger Bio
Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN
and 21 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title - winner of the
"Broken Heart" themed poetry contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND
CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E
Readers' Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers' Choice Awards for Winter 2015.
Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for
2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and
Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable
mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for
2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners
Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has
been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can
count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of
historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal
romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also
contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in
Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.