November 9, 2017 at 7:05 am #7529
Hello fellow lady writers,
I’ve been pretty dedicated about writing for only some 3 years now. I’m trying to stretch my literary muscles through different areas of spec fiction, since i’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up and since I’m just a newb. I’ve found that across genres I keep ending up writing the same man across from my female characters, or if he is the lead. If he’s on a spaceship, or a dragon, or an oil rig, he’s always the same quick-talking, smart but unmotivated, “nice” guy. Sometimes there’s three of them in one story. I keep trying to steer them away but they keep ending up as carbon copies of the same guy. Once he has more than a couple lines, he becomes this one dude. I know this is terrible, lazy writing so, my question(s) is(are).
Has anyone caught themselves doing this sort of thing, repeating a character? How have you stopped yourself?
WillisNovember 9, 2017 at 4:10 pm #7530
YES. Witty smart-mouthed girls who are thinking a lot of things but only say the sassy thing to hide their feelings. As I type this, I realize that my current main character, while unique, has roots in this type. Oh dear…
This is something I learned once:
1. If the character is similar to you or someone you know, give them an external trait that is the opposite of that. So change their hair color, give them a huge nose…whatever. The goal is to see them in a different light so that you don’t get bogged down with what you are failiar with. All of a sudden you’ll have fresh new ideas about their personality.
2. If the character is not simlar to you or someone you know, give them an internal trait that IS familiar to you. So if the man you are writing is coming from a really genaric place, and that’s why he is always the same, the goal is to make him more complex by giving him internal traits that you can intimately understand because you share them. Maybe exaggerate the trait– like once in a while you are angry, but anger is a big part of this guy’s personality.
And SPECIFICITY helps sooo much. Just name ANY detail. ANY. Be so specific. I had a character that was just an “old woman” and I was being pretty generic. It could have been fine– they could be a perfectly unique and round character– but then I said, “Ok. No. Let’s shake it up. They are an ex-pilot.” And all of a sudden it became wayyy more clear who this person was and everything else in the story had so much more reason and made so much more sense.
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