Being Truthful to the Characters

I finally got through a major hurdle. I mean, I think it was a major hurdle. I had been working on the same chapter for three days. I couldn’t get it to sound exactly the way I wanted. I’m not actually sure that it is the way I wanted. But it was enough to feel comfortable sending it off to my friend to edit.

It is probably one of the most disturbing scenes I have written. And, if you had read Glory, you’d know that I’ve written some bad stuff. But this one went to new levels for me. It made me feel…weird.

That was the reason I had changed it. In earlier rewrites, I had softened the scene.

I think I may have also taken on a bit too much of the negative criticism of my first book (people telling me that I could tone it down) and put it into those rewrites too.

But the thing was that it didn’t speak truthfully to the original manuscript and, as such, was a bit unfair to the story…and my characters.

I’m a strong believer that my characters do what they want and I simply record it. I know that’s hard for a lot of people to believe. They think I must have something in me that thinks a little bit the same as the people I write about. Trust me, I don’t.

So when I changed what had happened, I changed the story. And I changed my characters. In this case, two of them: one whose death wasn’t as gruesome as it should have been, another whose killing wasn’t as vile as she would have liked.

Yikes! Sounds creepy, right? I suppose it is. But I also write creepy stuff. There’s no real way around that.

So back to what I was saying: I rewrote it now with more of the original in mind. And, even though it’s scary, I like it. My characters are coming more alive because of it. They’re speaking to me more, letting me see the real them.

My suggestion? If you’re ever holding back, don’t. It isn’t fair to you or your reader. And it isn’t fair to the characters who are trying to tell their story through your words.

As for the criticisms? I’ll have to deal with them when they come. In the end, if someone has read it and feels the need to comment I should look at that as a good thing, right?

Right?

Even if not, that’s how I’m going to look at it.

I’ll let you know more about how it goes later. That scene was intense. Time to take a break.

2 thoughts on “Being Truthful to the Characters

  1. lifewithlunacat September 28, 2016 / 4:20 am

    I think that you need to give your characters a better chance to shine through their words and actions and don’t be embarrassed by what’s coming out of you and down on “paper” so to speak. I’d also like to point out that Stephen King must have felt the same as you, up to a point. But look how talented he is and how many books he’s written. I’m sure that he feels great about his work and probably doesn’t give thought anymore to what people think of him and his stories.

    • Michael McManamon September 28, 2016 / 11:52 am

      Yeah, you are completely right. It’s all part of the process of us growing into ourselves as writers, or the acceptance of our writing. It’s amazing at how closely this process resembles life. It’s also really cool. Thanks for your comment. 😁

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