Friday, October 14, 2011

When Characters Won't Cooperate

The romance is gone—actually, it never was. What do you do when the two main characters in your romantic suspense refuse to go beyond "like"? I've tried forcing them, but the scenes are artificial and flat. Somehow they got to be friends, but the chemistry isn't there. No zing. Also, this book is too short. And I don't like the ending I had planned. I'm not sure where it all went wrong, but it did. If it doesn't interest me, why would it interest anyone else? When I start looking at the state of the house instead of wanting to write, I know I have a serious problem.

Mr. Very Right

The secondary characters work. It's the hero and heroine who are lacking. Yesterday I realized part of the length problem is because there's been no romance along the way, something that usually happens over a number of scenes. Ramona Long triggered that thought by asking if the romance overwhelmed the suspense. Nooooo, but it made me think. It's a good question. What do you ask if your story's not working? I don't want to trash 190 pages and other characters I really love. How do you figure it out?

Mr. Too Wrong?

The right Mr. Wrong? 
So what to do? I've tried making Mr. So-So into Mr. Right, but it didn't work. She keeps taking off on her own. After much nail-biting and procrastinating, I think I got it. He's about to become Mr. Wrong. I need to research how far I can go with a federal prosecutor, but if necessary, he'll have to drop out and find a new job. He's undergoing a personality transplant as I write this. She has to change a little too. Then maybe the ending will work itself out. We shall see, but I have hope.


Nancy Lauzon said...

Great post, Ellis!

I hope you find the answer, unfortunately I don't have one for you! I have 3 finished mss that I ended up hating and will never publish, and 2 I didn't finish because I started hating them before I finished them. Can't explain why, although it was early in my career and I was in the 'experimental' phase. I put them away in a drawer and moved on. I don't think that would happen now. Hang in there and I hope it works out for you!


Ellis Vidler said...

Nancy, I'm not sure why we lose interest in a manuscript, but I have several unfinished ones. Have you figured out why you leave them or hate them? Do the characters still interest you? If so, maybe they could find their way into another story.
Maybe the story has problems and I don't know how to fix it. Another problem for me is that I always have another idea that's more appealing, so I leave one to start the next, planning to come back to the problem child. If you find an answer, please let me know!

Polly said...

You're so right. You have to love your characters, and if there's a romance, your characters must have that indefinable connection that makes them fall for each other, or it won't work. I think you're on the right track to "reright" their personalities so they do what they're supposed to do. I have all confidence that you'll find the magic solution.

Bren Fousek Bowman said...

Writing characters is too similar to rearing children, especially teenagers. If only they would listen to us! LOL

Ellis Vidler said...

Bren, good analogy! No one else listens to me; why should my characters? They all go their own way.

Ellis Vidler said...

Polly, I think they're swapping roles. He's less conventional and she's more so. We need a little alchemy here, to turn dross into gold--or plutonic feelings to hot ones. :-)