Outta My Head

Doll heads in small to large order

Comparing Head sizes by *Saffy* CC 3.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/saffy_suppi/4357006282/

Earlier, I talked about how difficult it was for me to get into Ephraim’s head pre-dementia (post 1, post 2). With lots of false starts, I finally got to a good place. As odd as it sounds, I had to stop looking at him as a character because everything I wrote felt viscerally wrong.

I began to look at the meaning/feeling I wanted to convey in each scene. I realized that while, through the rest of the story, Ephraim was trying to recall his memories, this was the scene that started that drive…it was the scene in which he tried to get rid of all those memories in the first place. Getting a concrete handle about why the scene was important helped me come to grips with this “new” Ephraim.

…and now I’m messing with my head again.

Slipping back into Ephraim with dementia would be easy. No, I’m switching back to working on Julia. I needed a break from her. I was so intrenched in the story that I couldn’t see my way to the next scene. I knew a little break would be good. Distance always helps you see…except when it doesn’t.

When I first went back to Julia, she seemed so foreign to me. All the old road blocks were there…and seemed to have grown. I had completely lost my grip for who Julia was and where her character was within the story. Much like I kept trying to force Ephraim into his familiar character, I was pushing Julia into the form of her that I knew the best (from the beginning of the story). All that had happened since those opening pages were missing. I was afraid I’d have to read the whole thing to get back into the groove.

Finally, I was able to shed Ephraim for a brief enough window to see that time and space really does help. The reason I was drowning in the Julia scene was because it was too long. I was just typing, letting my fingers get away from me, but I wasn’t saying anything. Nothing we being revealed. Nothing was being learned. Nothing was added. So, I snipped it tight, deleted about a page of extraneous blah, blah, blah.

I’m still having some trouble staying in Julia’s head, but I’m in a much better place.

How did I manage to lift the veil? That’s for another post. But I will sat that it wasn’t the same way I was able to crack the Ephraim code.

What are your methods for getting into new, or old characters heads?


3 thoughts on “Outta My Head

  1. I think I go much the way you go – free writing. If I try to control things in draft stages, when I’m still getting to know people, it just doesn’t work. This comes from a more basic instinct, intuition (I suppose it depends on where you believe your stories come from.) Only at final stages can I begin to control. Good luck, and sounds like you’re enjoying the process of getting to know your characters!

    • I am, but it can certainly be a challenge at times.

      Glad to know there are others who are just as, uh, free in their beginning drafts.

      When I feel the least in control, I always have a sneaking suspicion that everyone else knows exactly what they’re writing and how everything is going to unfold. Not that I’m irrationally jealous of them or anything 😉

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