Thursday, July 14, 2011

Taking a Vacation from your Characters

Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? It depends. There are times when a healthy break from the characters in your WIP is bound to do a world of good. When are those times? How can you know when the time is right to zip to the airport with all your bags packed, ready to go, preparing to leave on that jet plane for a little R&R and due time away from your four calling characters?

Here are surefire ways to ascertain if you need a break from your characters:

All About You

You are bleeding too much into your story. Your characters are starting to talk like you and walk like you. In fact, most of them have become you. This is sign number one you've become entirely too enmeshed in your work.

Story on Mute

Your characters have stopped talking. The mute button is on whenever you try to capture a scene in your brain. It's like watching a silent film where everyone is sitting around watching a silent film. Nothing is happening, clicking, or moving. Marcel Mareau on steroids.


Whenever you sit to write you bore yourself silly. I once read if you're bored while you write or edit, than guess what? Your reader is bound to be equally, if not more bored.

Ideas Exploding like Fireworks

You have a plethora of plotlines shooting off in your brain. Fighting to take the story in a dozen different directions is as complicated as catching and keeping dozens of bullfrogs in a basin. New story ideas come a'knockin. And they knock hard. They've gotten all tangled in your synapses. You're excited to keep writing, but it's all starting to jumble. Might be time to step away and unravel the kinetic wires. Time to straighten it all out. Chiropractic work for your characters.

Personal Life on Overdrive

You are fully aware that you aren't doing justice to your story. Instead of the two to three hours a day spent writing, you're down to ten minutes, and what you squeeze out of those ten minutes is beyond ugly. Sometimes it's best to get some affairs in order so you can appropriately pour yourself back into your story when it's time. Realign. Reboot. Recharge so your characters can rally.

Have you ever needed a vacation from your characters? If so, why?

*photos from Flickr

**written on vacation ;0


Miss Good on Paper said...

I know I need a break from a character in the same way I know I need a break from a "real person." If I'm starting to get just a bit annoyed and I feel like I need personal time, I take a break. I also suggest to my students that they take a break at those moments when they feel like throwing the computer across the room or screaming. =)

Great tips!

-Miss GOP

Angie Dicken said...

Great tips, Wendy. I have needed a break at all these instances at some point...but the great thing is, I usually come back so much stronger (writing wise) if I truly take the break and unplug.

Jacqueline Howett said...

Sometimes if I take a walk to the beach alone my characters might follow me there, so one needs a clean break where you interact with others for a while. Then on other days the beach works-I come back refreshed!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Fun post, Wendy!

After going to one of my first writer's retreats ever, I came away filled and overwhelmed with all I have to learn! I took a break at that point. This summer has been filled with unexpected, personally demanding events, so I have been taking a break from my characters. The good thing is, as I work through everything in my life, I'm finding myself very excited to getting back into my characters' lives. Thanks for sharing these! I'm going to keep them in mind as I continue this writing journey.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Yep. Taking a break is a must sometimes. I'm the queen of breaks, believe!