Fitting A Character Into a Preordained Box

StephaniaAt this point, my problematic character who’ve I have mentioned before, is happy. She’s maneuvered herself into a comfortable place in her life, with the exception of becoming a mother. She’s not nuts about that. She has had the baby and then  handed him to his father, saying, “Here. I’ve done my part. He’s your’s now.” Then she merrily goes off to work.

As a Mom who wanted to stay-at-home with my children, Stephania’s actions have been hard for me to swallow.  I know there are many children who suffer at the hands of mothers who didn’t want them, but writing about such a woman takes every ounce of imagination I’ve got. Stephania is a mystery to me. What do you do with a character like that?

I’ll tell you what–I’ve stopped writing. I needed a break from her and her cruel ways. I work at making her vulnerable, so the reader will have some empathy for her, but she’s really got a black heart. Sometimes I really wish I wasn’t such a goodie-two-shoes so I could write her more easily.

Another problem with this novel is it is a prequel. That means I know where this book needs to ends. So, weaving details and getting the timeline right is important. You’d think writing what came before would be easier, but this is the most difficult undertaking I’ve done so far. Pieces have to fit properly, so I set the stage for the next book (that came first). Are you confused yet?

Unlike my other novels, I’m finding I have to plot this one, and I’m not sure if that is a good thing. Usually I give my characters free rein and let them do what they have to do. But this one is different. This time I’m dictating what Stephania must accomplish, and she’s not keen about what I have in mind.

So, the going is slow. I write when Stephania is cooperating with me, and in the meantime, I continue to create other characters that are more willing to work with me. In the end, I will win this battle. I just hope the book is doesn’t show the struggle.

Let me know if you have ever come across a character that you really didn’t like and tell me what you did about it. Oh, and thanks for reading.



6 thoughts on “Fitting A Character Into a Preordained Box

  1. I have run across women like that in real life and they are plentiful. I’ve never tried to write them as characters but may some day. I could spout volumes on those women. Good luck with you character and the writing.

  2. I come across many problematic characters in the course of writing. Sometimes, I think the characters that are least similar to the writer are the easiest to write (at least for me). If you put yourself in a completely objective, strictly story-telling mindset it may work out better for you. Try not to let your personal opinions of such people get in the way of the character’s potential, even if that potential is not very pleasant.
    We, as writers, take it upon ourselves to tell stories for other people to read (and hopefully enjoy). Now, you can take what you will from that. Some people like telling those wonderful, daisy and rainbow filled stories. But is life really like that? Not all the time. We’ve all come across horrible people in our lives.
    It may be difficult, but embrace the things you can’t stand about this problematic character. If there is something about her story that your heart tells you needs to be shared, then there must be something that pulls you to her. If it’s strictly your head telling you to write it, I have no suggestions on the matter past what I’ve already written.
    I love all characters in my books equally – even the bad ones. There has to be some shred of humanity in this horrible woman who seems to be ruining your desire/drive to write. If you need to, find that shred of something and latch onto it.
    Good luck on your battle fighting. Keep at it and you’ll have no choice but to prevail.

    And as a last note…sometimes it’s fun to read about characters you can have no empathy for. Let her be who she is. If you don’t – if you change who she is in your head for the reader’s sake…will you ever be happy with it?
    Just some thoughts…

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! You reminded me of an important element in your comment and that is to be objective – a strictly story-telling mindset. I think I’ve been judging her by MY standards and not hers. She’s a strong character and I’m an A-type personality, so naturally will butt heads.

      • I’m so glad to have been able to help in some way 🙂
        I’ve had a few moments since starting this where I wished I’d done it sooner (before I finished my novels) – the writer support and encouragement is phenomenal. Sometimes all we need is a little suggestion here or there to make us contemplate over the way we’re doing things and then discover a better, more efficient way of getting them done. Even just reading other people’s blogs makes me really think over the way I do things. (I have no intention of changing my methods because they work pretty well for me, but it’s interesting reading about the differences and similarities nonetheless)…
        Hehe, yes I can imagine the time you’re having with Stephania if you’re constantly butting heads. Maybe you could look at writing her as some sort of discussion over thoughts/ideals/ways of being. Make it fun, rather than frustrating. There’s nothing wrong with letting a bad guy be a bad guy, in my opinion. It’s pretty fun for me trying to figure out the WHY.
        Just remember…you don’t have to butt heads with her, only tell her story.
        Good luck!

  3. It’s really hard to write about someone with a black heart, Barb. I’ve tried and a lot of the time I don’t like what I see. I truly believe no one is ‘all bad’ so I think that’s the only way I can get around this problem. Best of luck 😉

    • Thanks, Diane. I have shown her to care for a couple of girls she worked with in the story, so I guess that will redeem her somewhat. Thanks for weighing in.


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