Ever been writing something and discovered that… well… your characters aren’t exactly doing what you want them to? In fact, they’ve stopped running around and solving their conflicts and falling in love and saving the world and are instead, perhaps, standing around discussing the weather, or the irrefutable health benefits of cinnamon, or even—perish the thought—are simply enjoying a bowl of their favorite sugary breakfast cereal?
You’re not the only one. (And not that there’s anything wrong with sugary breakfast cereal.)
In the WIP I worked on during November, I realized about halfway through that my characters were standing around in front of lockers, talking about homework. It occurred to me that this was incredibly boring—if I’m bored writing it, you’re definitely going to be bored reading it—so I had one character punch another character in the face for no particular reason (though I sorted that out later).
Voila, action! Problem solved, and the story got moving again! (Albeit illogically at first, but it all came together in the end.)
And isn’t it wonderful to know that this phenomenon isn’t limited to those of us without agents / book contracts / novels on the NY Times Bestseller list?
A quotation from ridiculously amazing author Neil Gaiman’s blog post on December 31st, 2010:
“And also, please wish me luck with this short story I’m writing. I’m up to page 19 and nothing’s happened yet. Right now, they’re eating porridge. In my head, by this point in the story everyone was going to be terrified, and strange oogly things would be happening to all the villagers. Porridge!”
Ahh… doesn’t that just make you feel so much better about getting stuck? You have years and years of plot holes, sluggish characters, and seemingly insurmountable writing blocks to look forward through, regardless of your publication status!
Seriously, though… it just goes to show that writers, at no matter what point of the journey they may be on, can commiserate together over things that those who don’t write would just shake their heads at and say “so make them do something, already!”
How little they know… (also, I now want a bowl of oatmeal/porridge. With honey. And almonds. And those oddly delicious golden raisins…).
When was the last time your characters participated in an equivalent activity to eating porridge? Or talking about homework? And how FRELLING EXCITED are you that you share writing woes with Neil Gaiman?!
(Kinda makes you want to force your characters to eat porridge. Just a little.)
(Or maybe Fruity Pebbles instead, just to change it up a bit.)