How do you know what is right for your Characters?

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Crystal
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How do you know what is right for your Characters?

Post by Crystal » January 9th, 2010, 9:36 pm

I have a scene that I am editing and I know the current ending is predictable and dumb(knew it when I wrote it). Now I am sitting here contemplating how to change it and was wondering what you more experienced writers do.

I have three possible endings but I'm not sure which one my characters are needing to happen.

Would you write all three endings and see which one works best, or would you mull over it a bit? I hear so many people say "listen to what your characters want" well right now I just hear "CHANGE THIS" LOL.

TIA
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fionaw
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Re: How do you know what is right for your Characters?

Post by fionaw » January 9th, 2010, 10:00 pm

I would give it some time before making a decision. Unless you are working to a deadline, I wouldn't try to force it.

Also, I'd ask what the story as a whole needs to happen; generally the answer to that is to use the scene that increases conflict (unless it is the final closing scene, when that might not be so useful).

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BransfordGroupie
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Re: How do you know what is right for your Characters?

Post by BransfordGroupie » January 9th, 2010, 10:12 pm

Crystal wrote:I have a scene that I am editing and I know the current ending is predictable and dumb(knew it when I wrote it). Now I am sitting here contemplating how to change it and was wondering what you more experienced writers do.

I have three possible endings but I'm not sure which one my characters are needing to happen.

Would you write all three endings and see which one works best, or would you mull over it a bit? I hear so many people say "listen to what your characters want" well right now I just hear "CHANGE THIS" LOL.

TIA
Crystal,

I am not an experienced writer, but I would probably write all three endings (from favourite to least favourite) and see where that takes me. You might find after you have written the first ending that it is perfect or if you are really lucky you may even have an epiphany which could lead into a totally new twist.

As for the characters, you may not know them well enough, and that might be why you are not sure what is right for them. One way to know your characters better is to interview them. Don’t just ask questions that only relate to the book either. Ask them everything and anything from what school they went to, favourite food, do they have any fears, their most embarrassing moment (how did they react), and the list goes on and on and on. Maybe come up with 100 questions for each character. This should help you know what they are most likely to do in your novel. But make sure that they true to form.

Hope that helps.
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Crystal
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Re: How do you know what is right for your Characters?

Post by Crystal » January 11th, 2010, 4:51 pm

Thank you both for your answers.

I did give it a bit of time then today I rewrote it. It worked out much better this time. Thanks.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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Re: How do you know what is right for your Characters?

Post by LydiaSharp » January 11th, 2010, 5:48 pm

Crystal,
You might also want to take an objective look at your overall story structure. The ending must answer the question(s) brought up in the beginning. The rest is just details.
I wouldn't worry about doing something that's already been done to death either. Most of us are writing our own version of an old plot without even realizing it.
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Re: How do you know what is right for your Characters?

Post by Kaitlyne » January 11th, 2010, 6:54 pm

What is it that makes the ending predictable? It might be that the ending itself is okay, but that the foreshadowing needs to be turned down.

This is how I do things, so it's going to by no means work for anyone else. I actually plot in advance these days (always subject to change during actual writing of course), and the number one thing I tend to ask is, "What would he do..." Sometimes I know what happens, but not why.

Here's an example. I had a part coming up in my current WIP where I was pretty certain one character was going to be doing something really sleazy behind the other guys' backs. It was perfectly in character for him to do because he was someone I'd always thought, "He's so the type to watch out for because he would do this..." The thing is, I couldn't figure out what the trigger was. I knew he wasn't in it for the money, etc. I started to talk it out with a friend, basically where he'd say, "Is he the kind of guy who would care about (whatever)?" and we just went through looking at his personality until we found something that just clicked into place. I have to write an extra scene to set it up, but now it's an incredibly awesome part of the story that I'm just dying to write.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, the most important is what your characters would do right now on their own. You'll have to really understand them as people and the decisions they'd make. If that answer ends up being ridiculous and predictable, obviously you don't really want to go there. The trick is, you can't just say, "so I'm going to throw this other ending on instead." It still has to match the characters. If you have another ending that you like better go for it, but you'll have to look back and then ask yourself, "I know where I'm going, so what would it take to get this character to that point." The first example I can think of would be a character who is very opposed to violence killing the bad guy in the end. If the whole story sets him up as someone who would never do that, and then without any change he just kills the guy because it's unexpected, that doesn't work. If, on the other hand, the bad guy is torturing his kid and threatening to kill him and the MC feels like the only choices are let his kid die or kill the bad guy, then that's a completely different story. Does that make sense?

It's really hard for me to explain my thought processes on stuff like this, and I tend to just "get" my characters, which makes this easier for me than some people, I think. Hope this helps some, though.

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