Writing Different Characters (And General Updates)

I have always loved weaving words together, creating people, relationships and worlds from whisps of ideas in my mind. I draw inspiration from my life experiences, from a sentence I heard or a vision I saw, be it a dream or real life. The story grows from there, it spills out from my mind and my soul and onto the screen. I breathe life into it, I watch it become so much more than that original first idea…and it’s an incredible feeling.

I was feeling pretty uninspired by my current work in progress, Damaged Goods. Instead of starting a brand new project for NaNoWriMo, I decided to give this old work in progress a refocus. It was sitting around 18k words, and my novels tend to land around the 75k for word count when they are completed. Worst of all, it was dry. It wasn’t going where I wanted it to, I wasn’t translating onto the screen properly.

Part of the problem was that my main character from Collide is so strong and vibrant. She’s pricky, sarcastic, and very reactive. She stands up for herself and has a very quick tongue. She was a lot of fun to write.

The character in this story, Everly, is completely different. She’s quiet and shy, a wallflower who decides she wants a chance to get out of the background. She’s malleable, and she bends easily to what her love interest wants. She’s 17, the same age that Harlow was in Collide. However, she’s a younger 17. She hasn’t seen the things that Harlow had by that age. She didn’t have a challenging upbringing and aside from suffering from general teenage angst, she’s an average 17 year old. She is naive and at times, I want to throttle her for her poor decision making skills. But she is what she is supposed to be – a naive 17 year old, the same kind of 17 year old that I was and that many of us were. An impressionable dreamer with many hard truths and life lessons to learn.

Everly is different to write than Harlow was. She is not Harlow and she is not meant to be Harlow. My goal with this character is to give her her own strengths and weaknesses. There are many types of women out there, and I wanted to challenge myself by embracing that with Everly’s character. I wanted to explore her strengths and see her grow from love struck girl to whatever she will become once this journey I have put her on is over.

Everly’s circle of friends is an interesting one. The supporting characters in this novel are just as confused and hurting as most teenagers are. One of Everly’s friends struggles with an eating disorder and her not-so-friend-like feelings for another friend of theirs. Another friend has major self-esteem issues, streaming from being an almost completely ignored only child. Her self-esteem issues translate to her quest to be the reigning queen bee, purposing causing drama for attention she doesn’t get at home.

Everly’s love interest struggles with several undiagnosed mental health issues. He has trouble emotionally connecting with anybody, and he’s hot and cold with Everly. Everly sees him for all he is – his flaws, his strengths – and loves everything about him. But loving someone who is suffering changes you, and it changes Everly. I don’t think any 17 year old is really able to process that kind of suffering if they themselves are not experiencing it.

Prior to sitting down and firing out more words for NaNoWriMo, though, I was having difficulty translating what I wanted onto the screen. Everly was dull, almost lifeless. I was having trouble seeing her strengths and could only focus on her weaknesses and how different she was from Harlow. Then I realized that her difference from Harlow wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s reality, and I definitely don’t want to write characters that mirror one another.

Thankfully, I’ve found her spark and brought her to life. I’m very happy with how things are going to now, and I’m excited to see how it goes now that I’ve found my flow and the characters are finally speaking to me.

Have I mentioned how much I love NaNoWriMo? It always gives me that kick in the pants that I need to focus.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

And now, for the general updates aspect of this post:

● I’m doing a giveaway over on my Facebook page! Go over there and follow the steps to enter and win an ecopy of Collide.

● There’s still time to sign up to help with the cover reveal of Consumed. I’m so excited to show you all the cover! And the finished project as well.

● If you are participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to add me as a writing buddy! The more the merrier. You can also read the imperfect synopsis of my writing project, Damaged Goods.

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About J.C. Hannigan

25. Mother. Wife. Lover of words. Weaver of stories. My first book, Collide, is available in e-book for Amazon Kindle and Kobo.
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