Getting Your MC/Narrator to TALK.

So, over the past few days I took a course to get my scooter/motorcycle license,got hit by a motorcycle, and then proceeded to crash my own scooter during a drill on a very, very rainy Sunday. Front wheel locked and went straight over the handle bars.

I also started writing a new book (yay, new book, but won’t be saying word 1 about WHAT it is).

The thing about a new book is it means a new MC, and in the case of a first person narration, a new VOICE.

I have a few tactics for starting books, one of my favorite being to create a list of shots, essentially vivid still frames from the book. But no matter how much info I know about plot, or how many vivid moments I’ve got jotted down, I can’t really get into a rhythm until my MC decides to TALK, to tell me the story in his/her own words. Once that happens, the book finally begins.

THANKFULLY, my new MC took pity on me.

If your MC won’t start chatting, here are two things that work for me:

Think about how your MC would describe the other characters in the book. This tells you about their voice, but also about relationships and dynamics and other things that tend to come in handy when building a story.

-Sometimes you can "interview" your MC, or any character in your book, but I prefer to take a walk with mine. As I walk and let my eyes wander onto different things, paying attention to the way thoughts trickle in, that is when I start to make progress. I start to think of where my MC’s mind goes when they wander. And the seemingly innocuous thoughts are often very telling. I recommend not confining your MC to a list of questions, but letting them ramble.

I’m sure there are many more ways, but these are the two that seem to work for me. Do you have any techniques?

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7 thoughts on “Getting Your MC/Narrator to TALK.

  1. susanadrian says:

    bb, can I just say OUCH on the motorcycle incidents??? O_O
    And when starting a book I just write and write and write freehand in my journal, everything I can think about the character until she gets annoyed with me telling it and starts telling it herself. ๐Ÿ™‚ So far.

  2. shaherazad says:

    I have a few things I like to do (and absolutely NEED to do on the project I tried abortively to start last week). I like to do tarot readings for one–I’m a big fan of Tarot for Writers, and I’m often surprised by the insights I get from the cards. Plus, I’m a shrink by training, so I often will interview them as if they were a client. It’s very telling to see how someone reacts to seeing a therapist. And then there’s the old standard of blogging as the character. I’ve got a little known blog where I do that off and on for various characters. I like your idea of taking a walk with them though. Maybe I’ll do that when the rain quits.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Character Resumes
    I love creating characters. It is my favorite part of the writing process and the only one I’m really confident about at this point. So I tend to write more characters than stories. I’ll be sitting somewhere and a voice will come to me. Either inspired by someone I meet or something I see or seemingly out of nowhere.

    It began to happen so often that I would lose track of my characters before I ever got them down on paper. So I devised a system where I run my writing life as a business and each of my stories is a “department.” I guess it is the economist in me. So I have the character submit a resume. Nothing to formulaic, just the character rambling about themselves. I then file the resume in my character resume folder on my computer.
    Most of these characters I never use. For the story I am working on now, the MC got “fired” as a secondary character from my last story. Now I’ve built him a whole world and “hired” two of my other characters that I had in my file to be secondary characters.Thanks for sharing your methods Victoria! I hope you heal quickly from your accident!


    My Blog
    Debut Authors Blog

  4. jongibbs says:

    I like to start with the back-of-the-book blurb. By the time I’ve tweaked it enough to make it interesting (at least to me), I have a bit of an idea about the MC. Then I start on the outline, which might take weeks, during which I write snippets of dialogue, mini-scenes etc.
    By the time the outline is done I have a much better idea about ‘who’ the MCs are.
    I’ve just started this process with Dead Doris, though I’ve already written the opening page as a way of introducing the character.

  5. jongibbs says:

    PS: I hope you and your scooter are okay ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. annastan says:

    Ouch! I hope you and the scooter escaped unscathed! I love the technique you described for having the MC describe the other people in the story – I haven’t heard of this before but I can see it being really helpful. I like finding things my MC doesn’t like to talk about, places she doesn’t like to go, and getting her to tell me why – this always results in good stuff!

  7. Anonymous says:

    How I would love to be a fly on the wall whilst you ‘take a walk’ with your MC’s bb.
    That is a conversation I would love to overhear!
    I am very glad you are okay after your motorcycle accident!!!!!!!
    Tye xxx

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