I am sure all of the literary greats, during the creation of their masterpieces, raised an eyebrow at their fictional characters and muttered under their breath; “what do you think my book is – a fun-filled 18-30 holiday for you lot?”
The realisation that your characters are enjoying themselves a little too much can be a tough one to process. You start to question yourself after your character shrieks with happiness for about the hundredth time in one chapter – am I making this journey too easy? Where has all the conflict gone in my novel?
I always find my characters tend to be enjoying themselves too much when I am having a bad day. Whilst I am struggling with day-to-day life they will be having the time of their fictional lives on the pages of my draft novel and this will leave me prickling with irritation.
Why should my fictional friends enjoy themselves whilst I am having a bad day?
Last week I was stuck in a caravan with no wi-fi, two bored teenagers, my parents and some heavy rain. What I didn’t need at that point was to read about my single female MC, having fun with a handsome man on an ice rink. They were laughing, screeching, holding onto each other and whizzing round, having a ball! As my father read out another doom and gloom weather report, with no sign of any sun for a good few days and my teenagers climbed the plastic caravan walls, I had to stop myself from writing in a twisted ankle.
So, how do you handle the situation where your characters are having a bit too much fun?
Here are my top tips:
- Stay calm. This can be difficult when, like me, you are going through the seven circles of hell in a caravan and your MC is squealing with laughter…AGAIN!
- Don’t make any rash decisions and write some random stuff (painful, twisted ankles) whilst muttering, “the fun stops here, lady!” Writing in a random act, whilst extremely satisfying in some cases, could knock you off course.
- Check your plot. Is the fun necessary or you allowing a character to decide what’s going on? Sometimes a strong-willed character will get their own way and result in you writing in a lot of unnecessary partying or wild antics. Happens a lot to me!
- Ask yourself – what is the purpose of the fun? Is it driving your story forward? When your character is enjoying herself, is the reader getting some valuable character insight? If there is no purpose to the fun – stop writing it and get out more!
- An alternative view is to check your Writer Grump levels. Ask yourself whether you are feeling a bit grumpy? Perhaps this is leading to you being a literary party pooper? Maybe your character does need to let their hair down for a scene or two? (not half the book!)
This is not an easy literary situation to work through and my heart goes out to any of you dealing with a character, who is having a bit too much fun.
Take care writers.