Anonymous asked: “When I come up with an idea for a story I either have the plot worked out or fully-formed characters, but I rarely can mesh the two together. How do I make the two meet in the middle?”
Oh, I have been there many a time. It is hard to write about interesting people and actually make them do exciting things. To have both plot and character, in my experience, takes a lot of work. Now, let’s get started.
I’m going to divide this post up into two parts – One if you have characters, another if you have plot. Both might be helpful. In the end your characters might change a bit for the plot and vice versa. In my experience, until it’s been written down on the page, everything is all still very changeable.
If you have characters…
You’re missing plot. If you really have no idea or maybe you feel that you’ve hit a wall and are open to pretty much anything I would turn to this list – The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations and try to plug your characters into a few and see if that inspires anything. Most likely, you won’t see anything you love right off the bat, but if your very seriously try to imagine your characters heading down any of these roads (I always suggest trying at least three), eventually there’s a good chance something will stick. Really this method acts as a good starting point. It’ll help kick off the plot and spark imagination.
Fair warning, your characters may need to bend to fit the plot you want to write. They might be similar to the characters you’d formerly imagined, but the truth is if there isn’t conflict in your existing characters, that may likely have to change. This isn’t something to get annoyed with. Really, if you find a plot you’re really excited about, there’s a good chance you’ll be more than willing to twist your characters to make it work anyway – or I am at least. No one’s twisting my arm here but me.
If you have plot…
If you have plot, to be honest, I feel like you’ve got the easier end of it. Characters might seem mysterious at first but you can either choose to learn them as you write or can come up with a few things about them that you want to make sure you’ll include. Personally, I don’t like to know all that much about character (as you can see by my character chart), if you want to know more ahead of time, that’s fine, it’s just not my style.
I do however take notes as I write. This helps me remember the details about the character that I wrote into the first draft, so I can actually actively be learning my characters as I go. This strategy might take more editing. I don’t know if it’s the best one out there, but it’s what I do and it works for me for the most part.