I’ve had this problem, although I think in my case it’s more the other way around and I don’t want to talk with my imaginary friends at the moment. I published my first novel in 2012 and have #’s 2, 3 and 4 pretty well written. But on revisiting #2 in preparation for publication, I discovered that it really required a total revamp. There were some characters who had been carried over from the first novel and, when reconsidering the storyline, I decided it was time to get rid of them (no, not by killing them off, but by just writing them out of the story) and replace them with some fresh blood – some truly imagined characters who I thought were a better fit. So I began writing these new character into the storyline and invented new material, scenes, for them so that they could then take over the recently vacated secondary-character roles. I’ve enjoyed thinking through all this new business and seeing my characters spring to life – at least in my own mind. But I’ve been stuck as far as the actual writing goes and I just can’t seem to click on that file to open it again (in spite of pleas from my editor and beta readers to just get on with it, because they want to know what happens!), and even though I understand in my heart of hearts that what I’m doing in creating this fresh look for a long-ago written novel is the right direction to be heading.
Anyway, while I continue to mull this all over in my mind, I thought it would be interesting to hear from some other, more successful, authors (and an agent) on how they deal with their characters – with developing and getting those characters to stand on their own two feet on the page in a 3-D, large-as-life way that is believable to readers.
And perhaps, by reading these articles myself, those characters currently in my head will eventually be coaxed out for a while so I can play with them on my computer screen, instead.
First from my friends, Tim Baker and Armand Rosamilia, here are a couple of blog posts they’ve written on the subject of Character: Confession Time: Ike Was an Accident and Falling in Love … With Your Main Character
From Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com: 25 Things A Great Character Needs and The Zero-Fuckery Quick-Create Guide To Kick-Ass Characters (And All The Crazy Plot Stuff That Surrounds ‘Em)
From Writers Write: Seven Essential Things to Remember About Very Important Characters
From MorgEn Bailey’s Writing Blog: Guest blog: ‘Character names’ by Morgen Bailey
From Rachelle Gardner at Books & Such: Action Reveals Character