As most of you probably don’t know, Buffalo, New York has had a pretty amazing winter so far. In fact, we didn’t have any significant snowfall until only a few days ago. As I was going about my day, I had to drive through the white washed mess. My instincts kicked in, and all of my years of driving in the snow came back to me and I remembered how to navigate safely through the arctic conditions.
And then it hit me…. this is a lot like writing!
If you’re not following me, just hold on tight. It’ll make sense in a moment, I promise.
Anyways, how many times have you “forgotten” something about yourself? Say you just got out of a long-term relationship and you forgot how good you were at flirting? Or say you haven’t had a certain meal in a long time and you forgot how much you enjoyed it?
There’s so many ways that we totally forget about parts of ourselves due to dealing with the challenges of everyday life.
We all fall prey to this, and since our characters are supposed to be people too (if only imaginary), then they can have these kinds of moments as well!
The unseasonably warm and snow free winter in Buffalo, suddenly and quite shockingly regressed toward the mean!
This is what I needed to do
On a side project screenplay I’ve been working on, I hit a road block on a certain plot development point. You see, I was trying to do something I always found really difficult.
Meshing in a specific plot point for the points sake when it didn’t flow naturally into the pace of the story.
Now don’t get me wrong, the plot point fits not only the story, but the main character Monty White perfectly. The problem was, it didn’t jive with the pace I had set and I was slamming my head into the desk trying to figure out where and when to put in this hilarious part.
All of my usual tricks were failing me, the characters weren’t providing the way forward that felt right to me, and everytime I had an idea I would find something in the way of having it all work out in a logical way.
Then it hit me! I had forgotten who my main character was behind all the recent changes he’d undergone in the story.
The now slick, and well dressed man was still just a shady rake underneath it all! When things get bad people tend to regress toward the mean of their personality. If they’re the type to lash out, they lash out, if they’re the type to sit home and cry, that’s what they do.
I totally forgot my character was the type to not only light himself on fire when his back’s against the wall, but also the type to take as many people with him as possible.
The moment all of this came back to me I knew exactly what I have to do in the story. Once I finish my rewrites for No Rest for the Wicked, I’m definitely crushing through the last half of that screenplay!
So, with this strange message, please examine your own writing. Are there any pieces of your own story that you feel just aren’t coming together? Are you struggling to figure out what your character would do in such an extreme situation?
If that’s the case, then I hope the thought of how your character would regress toward the mean of their personality helps you out. It really did for me.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m nuts? Whatever you do think please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Featured Image: Courtesy of Carol Walker.