Dangling in the Balance Between Life Sucks and Happily Ever After

4 Aug

Have you ever been working on a novel, and walked away from a productive day of work feeling sort of unsettled about it?

I’m not talking about the writing itself, really.  Or the fact that it might be taking forever to complete.  Or (insert your insecurity of choice here).

Things have been going really well with these edits.  Some of the scenes are taking (a TON) more work than others.  Some are way better than I initially thought they were.  Either way, I’m making steady progress because I’ve been plowing my way through this draft with reckless abandon.  (Okay, reckless abandon is a bit melodramatic, but whatevs.  I’ve got to get the melodrama out somewhere, and it is NOT going into my draft.)

Yesterday was no exception, but despite good progress and satisfaction with the scenes I had worked on, I found myself feeling the slightest bit unsettled.  Then, it occurred to me:

Duh.  Your main guy and main girl are totally at odds with each other, and you (having the tendency to want to fix, fix, fix EVERYTHING) just want them to live peacefully ever after.

I hate to see people upset with each other in real life, so I guess it should come as no surprise that this carries over into my feelings about my characters.

This is probably a good problem to have.  It means the novel has its fair share of conflict, and it means I am able to empathize with my characters. It also means I’m not giving in to the temptation to resolve tension too quickly.  Hopefully, it means I’ll do justice to the emotions they’re experiencing so that future readers will empathize with them, too.

Do you ever feel unsettled after writing scenes that leave your characters dangling in the balance between life sucks and happily ever after, or is it just me?  If you do feel this sort of empathy with your characters, I’m curious — what made you realize you’d come to care so much for them?

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6 Responses to “Dangling in the Balance Between Life Sucks and Happily Ever After

  1. cynthia Wednesday / 4 August 10 at 3:40 pm #

    I read recently I can’t remember where that people who are not good with conflict have a hard time writing it. I don’t necessarily agree. And yes, when the characters in my writing are out of sorts, I often feel that way myself.

  2. Najela Wednesday / 4 August 10 at 3:55 pm #

    Have you ever been working on a novel, and walked away from a productive day of work feeling sort of unsettled about it?Oooh, I totally know how this feels. It happened to me last night. I wrote a really good scene, but I finished it and I was angry. I was like “Why did she do something so stupid?” I know it’s something she’d do, but it was so stupid that I was frustrated with her. It’s kind of like that “I wash my hands of you” type of feeling.

    I guess you’re right, it does need to be done. It’s a bit like real life. Problems don’t get solved so neatly in real life.

  3. Merrilee Wednesday / 4 August 10 at 4:35 pm #

    I can’t walk away in the middle of writing a fight, whether physical or verbal, because I get very tense and take it out on hubby :) So I completely understand!

  4. Elena Wednesday / 4 August 10 at 7:47 pm #

    I had a situation where I avoided having a female main character for years because I knew she was going to have all of my issues and act a lot like me, and having to write about it would be endlessly frustrating. I gave in once Thea came along – because she’s just so pushy – but I know what you mean about feeling what they’re feeling and wanting it to stop. A lot of Thea’s life problems were once my own, so it’s like diving back into them and re-experiencing the drama. But she reacts her own way to them, so it feels good to know that she’s still got a mind of her own; that she’s capable of handling in her own way.

  5. jenniferneri Thursday / 5 August 10 at 1:26 pm #

    Oh yes, absolutely! In my recent work when I realized that one of my character’s was going to get the real short end of the stick I was very upset about it. i tried so hard to change that ending, but it wouldn’t budge. And when a character dies I’ve actually cried – as blushing as I am to admit it.

  6. Laura Thursday / 5 August 10 at 1:56 pm #

    I have a problem writing particularly emotional scenes because they make me so upset! I avoid them until I absolutely can’t anymore, and then I’m grumpy for a long time afterward.

    I think if you don’t get upset at your characters or feel unsettled by what is happening, you may not have enough of an emotional connection to them. And if you don’t, the reader won’t either.

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