Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On Re-Visioning Part III

So here I am, trying to get as much done on the revisioning of MASQUERADE as I can before school gets out. I don't know if you remember, but I had to completely change the main characters. They still have their same names, but they've undergone a transformation -- like Clark Kent to Superman.

Penny used to be a bookish, sweet, shy young girl. Now she's intelligent, outspoken, and stubborn to a fault. William was just a happy-go-lucky guy, hanging out with his horses waiting for life to happen. Now he's a returning war hero, with wounds that go way deep.

I really didn't want to change them. It's actually taken me a long time to get a grip on the new aspects of their character. Like meeting someone you haven't seen in a really long time. You have to get to know them all over again.

Question -- If you haven't hung out with your characters for awhile, can you get right back into them, or do you flounder for a bit? How long does it take? Two pages? Two chapters? Do you like them more or less if you haven't seen them in awhile?

37 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I've never read your writing but already the new character seem like they'll bring more to the story. Good luck. It might take a little bit, I'm not quite sure.

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- They definitely bring more, I'm just having a really hard time seeing the "new" them. I'm not in love with them yet.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I remember changing my main character a bit after doing a rewrite of some scenes. I made her more refined and likeable, because she was coming across as a bit of a tart, and as I based her on me, I thought it was probably the best thing to do, lol.

It's important to get to know your character, as though they are your friend.

CJ xx

Anne Gallagher said...

CJ -- How funny you should say that. I'm making another character of mine into a tart, taking away her refined polished exterior. LoL.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I do a lot of re-reading when I've been away from a project for awhile and sometimes I'll slip in new chatacter traits that I think make them more intriguing or relatable.

Al said...

It takes me a while. Time spent thinking rather than writing.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm going to be dealing this soon, but I don't think it will be a big problem. Calleigh and Maddie are very different characters. :D

Good luck with the revisions.

Liza said...

Sadly, I don't know my characters well enough to need to re-learn them. I need to get deeper into them this first time round.

Anne Gallagher said...

Katie -- I'm still at the stage, that no matter what I write to progress into the story, I start again at page 1. The hard part is I don't usually know where I'm going until 50k, and right now I'm only at 6k. So I'm doing a LOT of re-reading.

Al -- I get my best thinking done right before I go to bed. Unfortunately this leads to insomnia b/c I can't stop thinking.

Stina -- That's good. At least you have that.

Liza -- Just keep swimming. The deeper you go, the better off you'll be.

Laurel Garver said...

Like Laura said, I think your recharacterization sounds like it will do a lot to make the story compelling.

I find that freewriting helps a lot when attempting this kind of change. Have a go at some writing promps from the character's POV, like, "my best day" or "my worst memory" or "my mother always ____; my father never _____."

Good luck!

Linda G. said...

It usually doesn't take me more than a few pages to get reacquainted with a character I haven't written in a while. To me, they are who they are, and don't pay much attention to what I want to do with them. Maybe I should crack the whip a little more. ;)

Bossy Betty said...

Those darn characters seem to have minds of their own! I guess that's what makes them interesting.

Anne Gallagher said...

Laurel -- That a good idea. Never thought it that way.

Linda -- My characters never pay much attention to me either. They do what they want.

Anne Gallagher said...

Betty -- It feels like they have two minds each now. The old mind and the new mind. I have to keep trying to not write them the old way.

Summer Ross said...

since I play mostly in poetry and short stories there isn't room to switch stuff on my characters. I have not yet experienced this but its a great question.

Patti said...

I had to do that on my WIP. One of more characters was coming across too unlikeable. I think it takes a bit of time to get back into character mode if you've been away from the project for a while.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm always into my characters as so much of me is in them. So I can plug in and take a vacation pretty much at will.

Tess said...

oh, I flounder...but if I stick w/ it then they always come around. Glad you found your way with these two characters. Those were some big changes!

notesfromnadir said...

This is the best way to get to know your characters. Get away from them for a while & then revisit them. But don't change them too much. That's what sequels are for!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i have to say, those revamped characters sound awesome and badass! I totally approved! And I typically can get right back into my characters. Or, at least, i have yet to run into a situation where i couldn't

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess I'm really familiar with most of my characters now, especially as a couple have been with me for decades.

Francine Howarth said...

Hi,

I think all my characters - from the old published novels to the new unpublished - are part of my extended family. I know them all, love them all, even the baddies! ;)

best
F

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

If you aren't completely comfortable with the new character traits, maybe instead of making it an either/or choice, you could consider merging the new and old traits to create more complex characters. Then, they'd still be the people you already know and love, but they'd also have more depth.

As for continually finding yourself back at page one, I feel your pain. I've rewritten my first page and first chapter more times than I care to remember. At some point, you just have to resist the urge to re-read it "one more time" and give yourself permission to move forward.

Jennifer Hillier said...

If I haven't hung out with my characters in a while, it does take time to get to know them again. Especially the little things that made them really interesting. We have to go through this whole awkward phase before the comfort level is back and we can move forward. Funny how that works.

Lydia K said...

It takes me a little while to get to know them again. It's always a little weird in that phase!

Elliot Grace said...

...funny you should ask. I revisited a project I'd grudgingly departed a while back as my release neared, and recently returned to find that perhaps I didn't know my character like I thought I did. Which really isn't bad if you think about it. Like re-discovering an old pal and realizing they're not the type of person we thought they were:)

EL

The Words Crafter said...

I have to hang out with them in my head a while. Listen to some music they like...watch a movie. Then, they have to make the first move if I can't coax them out.....I'm impressed you're doing it!

Al said...

I do a lot of my best thinking as I go to bed too. Oddly it doesn't lead to insomnia for me. Although I do get insomnia at other times.
Go figure.

hot girl said...

veri nice.

Talli Roland said...

I flounder a little bit, but then I remind myself what they want and what their journey is, and that usually helps!

N. R. Williams said...

I love my epic fantasy characters, even the bad guy. I have a little YA fantasy with a humorous character that I thought would be a one time thing, but there are request for more. I have a new idea, and I am just learning about this character. This one is a bigger challenge since she starts out as a bird. I've never been a bird, so imagining the way they might think is tricky. LOL
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

Summer Ross said...

Just wanted to let you know I tagged you on my blog today

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

That's a good question. I can usually jump right back into my characters. We'll see what happens when I start on Scales again. :)

Deniz Bevan said...

I'm glad to be able to say I like my characters more when I return to them after an absence! And the best way to get into a scene, for me, is to write a sweet romantic scene :-)

Susan Fields said...

It takes a little while to get to know them again, but then I like them just as well as I did before. Good luck with your revisions!

WritingNut said...

This has happened to me after I left them alone for a while.. and when I came back, it was almost as though I didn't know them anymore... it was sort of hard to write them exactly the same.

I did a little writing exercise to allow them to "vent" at me, and while it helped, I realized in order to make the story work, they needed to change, but they're much better for it! :)

Dawn Simon said...

Good questions. I find reentering a novel tricky--so much so that I try to stay in it (even if it's just in a small way) until I'm at a point when I need the space to get perspective. Of course, that can't always happen. I don't know how many pages or chapters it takes me, but reading does bring me back. If I have songs that remind me of a character or manuscript, listening to them also helps.

Good luck with your revisions! I'm revising too! :)