Some writers call it a burst of inspiration. Some writers call it “being in the zone.” It’s that magical shift that happens when your characters start speaking and acting with their own free will. That point of no return when they run off on their own wild ride and you really have no choice but to follow along.
One of the stickiest places for writers is when they want to move their characters from Point A to Point B in a story. Sometimes Point A and B are physical places. They might need to get their character from California to China. And sometimes A and B are two points in time, as when their character has to go from high school graduation to an end-of-the-summer scene.
These transitions can be tough for writers. Number one, because there isn’t a whole lot of emotional investment in the transition. It’s just a necessary part of moving the plot along. Number two, most writers tend to overwrite these transition scenes, trying to flesh them out when they don’t need to be fleshed.
How does a great writer get inside a character’s head? What’s the secret to peeling back the layers to reveal the emotionally textured motive beneath?
I recently struggled with this while reading a long, epic poem by Goethe. There were so many characters, and each character had so much going on, that it was hard for me to keep track of all of them. It was even more difficult to see the bigger picture of how they all fit together.
We all have those ghosts. The secret you cringe to think of anyone finding out. The memories that surface in the middle of the night when you can’t get to sleep and you can’t stop thinking. The flashes of things that happened years ago that strike like lightning at the most random times.
Good characters can make or break your novel.
An audience will follow an extraordinary, kick-ass character through any number of complex scenes, plot twists, and controversial decisions. As a writer, you already know that the best characters are layered, multi-dimensional beings who can think for themselves. You know that you have to go inside each character to get something awesome happening on the outside.