Hi all. Thanks for all your kind words regarding my seminar project. I’m SO happy it’s over.

So, I have this predicament. I want to write a story.

You: Wow. Join the club. This is the problem EVERYONE faces you’re not special go home.

Okay, touche on my not being specific enough. Let’s try again. I want to write a story with this character. I ā¤ this character, I love his quirks, his attitude, his voice. And some of those quirks provide AMAZING imagery opportunities.

You: So…what's the problem?

I don't have a story. I have a character. I have NO idea what to do with him. It's killing me, not so gently. I'm honestly in a bind here. I tried free-writing about him, I tried listing, and I just can't figure out what to do.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you proceed/extricate yourself from the nightmare of character minus plot?

(perhaps I should add that I CAN think up stories for him, of course, but the options I think up cover the entire spectrum of normal -fantastical and I can't even decide where he should fall, which setting would be best.)


14 thoughts on “Dilemma

  1. tessagratton says:

    I have had this problem recently. With this character called Thomas who is super cool and all the things you’re talking about. I know who he is and what he does, and thought (hoped) that was enough.
    And I currently have about 25k of story attempts. None of it is working. I’ve tried writing three different versions of his story, brainstormed a ton, and ended up putting everything into a separate file of fail. I can think of so many possible stories, in so many different veins, like you mention. But none of it feels RIGHT.
    Unfortunately, I think the only thing to do is wait. When he’s ready, he’ll “tell” me what his story is. Until then, I work on other things and occasionally let him seduce me into a little extra brainstorming. I like to think it will happen when the time is right, and his real story will come together as solidly as HE did.
    Sorry I don’t have a better answer. :/

  2. britmandelo says:

    I scribble out some notes on him and let it sit on the mental back-burner until I do have a story. It will happen. (The urban fantasy project I’ll be finally starting this summer is almost a year and a half old.)

  3. veschwab says:

    It’s SO frustrating!
    Mine keeps coming to me, that’s the problem. He waltzes in and is like “ME. My turn lady.” And I’m like “I don’t know your story step back!”

  4. veschwab says:

    That’s what I’m hoping. His potential directions are just SO different. I think I need to go with my gut too. The direction I keep getting pulled to is less conventional, and I keep trying to fit him back into a commercial mold, but he won’t fit! Maybe I just need to follow him when he wants to lead.

  5. tessagratton says:

    Too bad it’s so hard to beat imaginary people into submission.

  6. olmue says:

    I have a whole family of them. I know all kinds of things about them, including the emotional journey they make. But it’s been…four years? and I’m still trying to figure out the plot that goes with them. Every once in a while I take them out in my mind and talk to them, but so far, nothing more has come of it.
    Maybe you just need to have the right things come together or the right experiences or see the right things, and the story will click for you?

  7. veschwab says:

    I’m afraid that’s too true. But I want to know the story NOW.
    Seriously, though, it just doesn’t seem to work that way for me, I can’t make those kinds of demands. My stories either come to me fully formed, ala Near Witch, or I have to sit and wait until they manifest themselves. Maybe/hopefully something soon will trigger!

  8. olmue says:

    I hope something clicks soon! (And for the record, these characters are not the only ones talking in my head…I’ve written two complete books while the first set of people have been stewing. My head is a talkative place sometimes…)

  9. britmandelo says:

    Yeah, that was the problem with this project. It’s been started–uh, four times? And every time I realized (once 100 pages in) that I was Doing Something Wrong. Also, every time I was trying to fit into an imagined commercial mold for the story too. One was quite “Dresden Files” ish and that is so far from how I write it was painful.
    Now the notes are actually starting to flow into something that is actually my (their) story and not what I wanted it to be. Which is infinitely better. *g* So I guess my advice is write some short stories to let off steam and wait.

  10. kessie says:

    I generally wait. Characters I created at fifteen didn’t get their right plot and setting until I was twenty-two.

  11. It really can take years to find the right story for a character… Some of mine are verging more toward the “decades” mark. Yikes.

  12. veschwab says:

    Ugh but waiting requires the dreaded P word, Patience.
    I know you’re right though šŸ™‚

  13. veschwab says:

    Wow! But I suppose you have to wait for it. If I’ve learned anything it’s that I CANNOT force a story, unless I want a really bad result lol.

  14. kessie says:

    Yeah, there is that silly patience thing… šŸ™‚

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