Lesson 59 Chapter 3 Module 6

Now that you’re getting excited about the possibility of building characters into your writing, I want to take a brief detour to discuss an important (but often overlooked) reality of this process.

Don’t worry if you are wondering “Why with all the fiction? I’m an entrepreneur, I don’t create characters,” I’ll have you covered tomorrow and with this week’s writing prompt--it’ll all come together!

When I first read The Rosie Project, I fell for it. As I mentioned in today's email (and you can read about in the Additional Reading), so did Bill Gates, so I figure I'm in good company. This isn't just another love story.

What isn’t to adore in a novel about a genetics professor with Aspergers Syndrome who realizes he wants a partner, but can’t make a date work for the life of him, so he decides to statistically and logically qualify a woman for marriage by creating The Wife Project.

As anyone who has ever attempted dating or being in a relationship before, I’m sure you understand how appealing and simultaneously ridiculous that premise is.

When we measure people against the impossible standards that we’ve decided are “ideal”, then we can never find someone who will match up.

So...if that’s the case, why do we do this with our characters?

There are a zillion worksheets and questionnaires and advice pieces out there (many I’ll link to throughout the week for your review) that will teach you how to create characters in your writing.

But the thing that none of them will talk about is what happens when you write yourself (and your character) into a situation that is completely out of character, because that is the place the story takes you?

If you’ve been writing before, or have started doing it more as we’re over half-way through this course, I’m sure that you’ve experienced a roadblock where you just don’t know how to get out of the corner you’ve wandered to.

The reason this happens, more often than not, is because we are too tied to what we originally planned for the piece.

Our character is a gifted brain surgeon, but can’t save a little girl he happened upon, who was part of a car accident. Our setting is sunny and bright and warm, but we need to use an ice sculpture. Our post is all about the way a sprocket is designed to solve a problem, but it doesn’t work in this one particular situation.

Whatever the cause, we can angst and toil the longer we try to jam the square peg we’ve created into the round hole the story needs to go.

While one option is to just change the direction you’re going in, consider the possibility as well that you might just need to change the foundations and traits of your character.

That’s not a bad thing.

One of the best part of a story is when the reader gets to experience change and growth along with your characters as they’re pouring over the words.

We don’t want to read stories in which someone starts and ends exactly the same, unyielding in their stubborn resolve to not be affected by their circumstances and surroundings.

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