The problem with characters is that sometimes they won’t tell you what’s wrong. They go from talking, talking and talking to sudden silence and leave you wondering …. what happened to create such a dramatic shift. Sometimes it’s something that we’ve done or said as writers that makes them go quiet, and at other points it’s something else. Some, dark, deep untold part of their history … which has never really been vital, up until the point that they go quiet.
This is the point where they become a cross between a moody teenager and a pet. A teenager because if you’re lucky you’ll get a grunt or something other vague conversation that makes you go … whateven is that?! And a pet, because they can’t or won’t tell you what’s wrong. So instead, you’re left to play the vet as they look at you with those big brown eyes … and somehow expect you to fix and resolve everything with a swish of a magic wand.
Sometimes the fix is easy, because it’s simply a case of deciding that that character has done well, they’ve come a long way and have helped you out with the story … but there’s no longer a place for them in this story. At that point, it’s time to send them off to the Home for Retired Characters, where they’ll no doubt meet up with some of their former friends and enemies and so on and so forth. And at other times it’s far more complicated.
There are those characters that when they stop talking … everything stops. They’re the leaders of the pack, so when they don’t talk or give any words of wisdom the other characters all look around a little puzzled … wondering what they should do. It’s a little bit like the parents being away as a child … and you having a house party because mum and dad have gone and when else can we get the chance to do this?! It quickly descends into chaos … and that’s not always pretty.
I mean, sure sometimes you can get some useful bits of information out of those brainchildren that are having the wild house party … but chances are it’ll be nothing more than them whining about wanting to write about something fluffy and insignificant. Eventually, though, mum and dad will come back home and the kids will be licked back into shape … and everyone will forget that there was a problem.
We’ve had a bit of a week like this, where our main and driving characters have been AWOL. It’s our fault, really, for neglecting them and not giving them what they needed so in turn … they went off and did their own thing! Thankfully, Charlie and I have got used to our characters doing things like that and have come up with methods of coaxing them back. Usually by watching a film or tv series or something like that. I think, we’ve pretty much got a show or a film or a piece of music for all of those characters that we need to keep around … there are a couple that we need to work on, but give it time and I’m sure we’ll have figured that one out!
So, for the rest of the weekend we’re going to be watching a series and write a few smaller things in the hope that our dominant voices come back to us! Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson this time – not to neglect the voices that matter. Although, I say this but sometimes … sometimes we can be really slow learners ….