Jennifer talks about getting to know your characters...
As a pantser, I usually start out with a pretty good idea of some piece of the story. It might be a scene that appears fully fleshed out in my head. It might be a conversation between two characters. It might even be a location. From there, I generally can come up with the premise for my book, and from there, I sit down and write.
I’ll admit, it’s not very organized and it does have its downsides; mainly, I often end up writing about characters I don’t know very well. Usually, I learn this because I get to a point in the story and I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know what the character would do in a situation, or why they react the way they are reacting. Often, when I go back and reread the manuscript, I find they have done a complete one-eighty and done something that I never expected them to do and that frankly, doesn’t work with the way I’ve set up the story. It’s times like these, as I’m doing major rewrites, that I wish I was a plotter.
The current manuscript I’m writing has some definite holes in it. I’ve been working on it for a long time and in addition, I’ve taken several extended breaks from it. Therefore, my characterizations aren’t consistent. But for me, I need to get to the end before I go back and fix things; otherwise, I’ll remain in a constant state of rewriting and never finish my manuscript.
I attended a workshop by Roxanne St. Clair at my local RWA conference and she talked about an interesting writing method that works for her. She writes the first 100 pages and then goes back to the beginning. She then writes through to page 250 and once again goes back to the beginning. Finally, she writes to the end. The reason she does it in stages is because she doesn’t feel she knows her characters well enough, and by writing this way, she’s able to fully understand her characters and make sure they are consistent and well developed throughout the manuscript.
It’s an interesting concept and in the future, I might actually try it. But for now, I’m plodding along to the end. My writing road is windy and has lots of dead ends that I need to fix, but it’s getting there. And by the end, I’ll know my characters.