IWSG #10 ~ September 2013

~Jennifer~ | 10:56 AM |

Alex J. Cavanaugh created this awesome group, which I'm proud to be a part of. The first Wednesday of every month you can share your feelings and worries without judgement plus your triumphs with congratulations. Join this group - it's fun, it's a great way to connect with your fellow writers, and we all can support one another! :D

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner - crazy!! - I've been reading a lot of blog posts with helpful advice about character development, plot structure, etc. I've also paid a lot of attention to author interviews, and there's one thing that sticks out in all of them - their characters seem to come to them, demanding to be heard. 

My question is why am I not hearing voices?? Why isn't anyone asking me to tell his or her story? When I write, all I can imagine is myself as the main character, and that's just not going to work. It won't be authentic. So how can I start hearing some voices? Any advice? 

32 comments:

  1. You post made me laugh because, how crazy is it to want to hear the voices. I get it. I do hear the voices, but I have to be in the right frame of mind. Otherwise, I would never get anything done. I wouldn't be to concerned about your characters sounding like you. My characters all have some piece of me in them. I am interested to hear how others hear the voices. Good luck.

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    1. Lol, I was thinking that when I wrote this post! That's true - I can't imagine our characters having no part of us in them. Thanks for the advice, Sydney!

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  2. I agree with Sydney. Really for me, as I get the story down, the plot, that's when I start to hear the voices. Or, sometimes, they start out in my voice, but pretty soon they take over and let me know what's what. Great question! Happy 2nd anniversary on ISWG!

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    1. Maybe that's my difficulty right now because I don't think my plot at this time is strong enough. Well, the main plot is, but it isn't enough to carry an entire novel. I need to think about some subplots. Thanks so much for the advice and for stopping by, Lisa!

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  3. Oh, yeah, and I saw Donnie Darko because my kids made me. I'm SO glad they did. Great name you picked!

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    1. I'm glad they made you! ;D Love that movie to pieces, and I really pay attention to the writing every time I see it (which has been a zillion times at least, lol). It's brilliant! Thanks!

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  4. Go out and watch real people in ordinary places. Look beyond the obvious and create imaginary lives for them. Take a writing journal into a coffee shop and write a few lines about each person that comes in. Watch how other people interact. Soon you'll be creating characters that will start to talk to you. Some you'll use and some you won't. A word of warning. Be discreet. I've often been asked "Wanna picture then?" Now you've given me an idea for a blog post. Thanks. Check out my blog for something about character!

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    1. That's a great idea! I've been meaning to go to our local coffee shop to catch up on writing my reviews but feel guilty leaving the husband and kids, lol. But being a full-time parent, if I don't get out of this house soon by myself, I might go crazy!

      I'll definitely be discreet - it's like you read my mind because I could just imagine someone thinking I'm a creepster or something, lol. ;D I'm flattered I inspired a post of yours! I'll check it out. :)

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    2. Your post is really helpful! Thank you so much for writing it. I'm trying all of your tips out. :)

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  5. I get it all kinds of ways; sometimes I "hear" the voice of the main character (especially if it's in 1st person) but other times I just see scenes. I don't think you should "try" to hear voices, lol (that's hilarious, by the way), but I think you should do what works for you. It actually sounds like a terrific short story. Hmmm... a writer who doesn't hear voices but runs around trying to and just when she gives up, she hears a whisper in the middle of the night. And then that whisper turns into (wait for it) the voice of her characters who won't leave her alone. And then they stalk her, preventing her from thinking or concentrating, and then she wishes the voices never came because now she's tormented by them...

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    1. Oh my God, you're right, that would make a great short story, LOL!! I don't know, I guess I thought voices would just come to me without any effort on my part, lol. I am afraid of that happening, really. Now I'm giggling quite a bit. :D Thanks for the advice and stopping by, Quanie! :D

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  7. I am also a new member of the ISWG. :)

    I experience both: characters that I create from head to toe and imagine are me, and characters who have popped into my head with their own stories. But all of my characters have a little piece of me, and I think all writers do that. After all, these characters live in our heads so it's only right that they are like us in one way or another.

    Like Sydney, I have to be in the right frame of mind. And I can't push it. When a character comes to me, it happens when I least expect it. If you're interested I've talked about this on my blog: http://writewithfey.blogspot.com/2013/05/more-on-character-development.html

    Good luck!! :)

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    1. Hey, welcome to the IWSG! :D

      I think writers must add at least a little part of themselves in. It seems unavoidable to me. I just thought that voices would just magically pop into my head, lol. I'm glad to know it isn't exactly like that since it doesn't seem to be happening for me. Thanks for your kind words and link. I'm checking it out right now. :)

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  8. I don't know how much my advice is worth, but in my last draft I went in to it with the single conscious decision to make one major thing different from me for my main character--namely that she wouldn't have social anxiety. It was an amazing experience and from there she really branched out into her own person. It was also a really freeing experience for me.

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    1. A fantastic idea! It just struck me that not only do we show our creativity in our actual writing but also in how we get ourselves there, such as brainstorming solutions and ideas such as yours. I have social anxiety, too. A lot of it. And it makes it difficult since my daughter is in school, so I have to interact with her friends' parents and other people at school functions. I positively hate grocery shopping, and I don't like going out in public. I'm glad to hear it was a freeing experience for you, and I want to try your idea out once I get a full draft done. :) Thanks for your advice and for stopping by!

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  9. When I lie awake at night and a story keeps going round & round in my mind--scenes, dialogue, whatever--that's what I call voices in my head. It's different with every book. The worst part is when you really need to finish the current book and a new story won't let you go to sleep. Good luck and don't worry about not hearing voices. Everybody's different and there's no one right way.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Diane. I lie awake with scenes and ideas for stories in my head, but I worry they aren't enough to carry off an entire novel. I think that must be where the subplots come in - it isn't enough to have just one central plot. Characters are difficult, probably the most difficult aspect in my opinion. They're what stick with you long after you've finished reading a book. I can remember characters far better than I can plot for instance. Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  10. I'm one of those odd writers who doesn't hear voices - I picture scenes. There's more than one way to go about getting inspiration. If you're worried about your character being too much like you, then pick personality traits that are very different. I'm sure they'll come to life when you start writing! :)

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    1. That's a good idea, Emma. The main character usually ends up being so much like me that I picture myself in all the action whereas I want to imagine someone completely new and different. Different personality traits are the way to go. Thank you so much! :)

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  11. When I start throwing adversity at my characters is when I learn about them. I never know how they're going to react or what to expect. I guess you could say I torture my characters into revealing themselves to me? God, that sounds horrible! My genre is mystery. ;)

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    1. Hahaha, that's how you find out about them though! When I put mine in difficult situations, maybe they'll reveal more of themselves to me. Thank you for your advice and for stopping by! :D

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  12. I never heard voices. I planned the characters in advance and they just came to life as I wrote.
    NaNo is great. Don't know if you've participated before, but I wrote my second book during NaNo 2010. So big things can happen.

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    1. I did participate in NaNo last year and began a zombie novel. I'm changing it into one that takes place in the '60s, and zombies coexist with humans. Instead of drafting people to Vietnam, the government decides to start drafting zombies. I have a few characters so far, and I think around 25,000 words. I didn't win it, but I plan to this year. :) Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, Alex. I know you're a busy guy! My goal is to read every book you write. :D

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  13. My stories begin as bits of a movie in my head. I see my protagonist doing something. It may take awhile before I get what his or her story is, but there's always a sense of dread or urgency or sadness. As they reveal who they are and what has happened, I get a better idea whether I can write their story. It sounds complicated, but actually it's like spying on them, and getting closer and closer so I can understand why they're in my head. Hope all this makes sense.

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    1. It does make sense,Joylene, and I think that's a really cool way for stories to unfold. I like that a lot. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  14. I tend to do a lot of character planning before I start to write something, because if I don't my characters just don't seem real to me. So that's my advice; figure out who you want your character to be, do some character profiles, and write your story to fit them. :)

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    1. That's definitely important to me, too, and I think it's great advice. I think planning them out will be a lot of fun because I can create them to be anything I want them to be. Thank you for stopping by and helping me out, Laura! :D

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  15. The first book I wrote (that will remain forever unpublished) started out with a married couple, Rae and Dave (hello, Robyn and Dan). Dave broke up with her hard (sadly prophetic since it happened in real life 6 months later). Once I got myself out of my system other characters sprang to mind, though I'm not sure they perched on my shoulder and chatted with me. Great post. You made me laugh.

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    1. Do you still have your first book? I'm just curious. Maybe I should write my nonfiction book first and get myself out of my system. I've been planning for years now to write a book about my experiences with my grandpa and mom when they were diagnosed with cancer. I've started it; maybe I'll work on that during NaNoWriMo this year. Last year is when I started my zombie novel, and I didn't end up winning. I want to work on winning this year. Have you participate in it before?

      I made myself laugh after I wrote this. :D

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  16. I have the same problem, Jennifer... but since when is it a really bad thing? I think it's in every writer's nature (especially those of us just starting out) to write what they know... and what we know is ourselves. For our first projects especially, it shouldn't be an issue. You are a unique individual full of experiences that no one else has had, so there's no harm in infusing your personality into your characters. In fact, I think that's how you'll make them most authentic! I say move forward without fear of your characters being too much like yourself... and in time, when you're not trying to force it, they'll develop and grow organically just like you will. :-)

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    1. I've been seeing this as a bad thing, but you're right - it isn't necessarily a bad thing. You've given me a new perspective, which I really needed! :) Thanks so much for giving me that and stopping by, T! :D

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