If in doubt, remember who you’re writing about.

This is a service announcement – normal service has been resumed.

Yes folks, after beating myself up and eventually just giving myself a break, I wrote about 2.5k words today. I am back on track. There was even blood, general violence and explosions in it, which also makes me happy.

I don’t know how much of this is to do with having taken a break over the last couple of days and how much is related to the fact that I read three books in the last twenty-four hours. All 400+ page thrillers. One of them was a disaster-movie-in-a-book – a massive flood and firestorm engulfs London. However epic the scale of the disaster thought, I realised that the events before, during and very briefly after were related from the viewpoints of individuals involved in different areas of the situation. Individual voices, individual stories – no matter how epic its subject, a novel’s power is at the level of the individual.

So reading about people other than my character struggling to stay alive seems to have refreshed my writing batteries. I think for a while there I lost track of what I was doing. Not who I was writing about or the events I was covering, but the fact that I was recounting events which had actually happened. Yes, I know, I’m crazy. Bear with me.

I have written on this blog before about building a character’s voice and for a few days there, I forgot that I was meant to be recounting events that were actually happening to my main character. I was recounting them more as a newspaper might, with no emotion. I forgot to look at my novel’s events from my character’s point of view. I lost that urgency, that feeling of how this was all going to go horribly wrong if she didn’t pull herself together and do what needed to be done.

I realised this last night, at an hour where I really didn’t feel like doing any writing anymore. In the event I could have because I was reading until half past six this morning. It occurred to me, as the sky paled outside the window, that I could probably turn on the laptop and do some work. Then I considered having to move out of my nice warm cocoon, plug it in, sit up… Yeah, it didn’t happen.

But it seems the reading helped anyway. Maybe it helped to be immersed in someone else’s world for a while. Helped me remember what it was I was trying to do. I was trying to build a world that would draw people in. But if I forget my character’s voice, it will never happen. No one stays up into the early hours to read a newspaper. Do they?

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About Mhairi Simpson

Writer, dreamer. Magic, dragons, pink mice, cake. Come say hi!
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7 Responses to If in doubt, remember who you’re writing about.

  1. alberta ross says:

    well I never have !! – yes it sometimes happens the voice gets lost – well done for taking that break – we all tend to forget to factor in the rest and relaxation – so necessary – glad you’re back fighting fit

  2. ellieswords says:

    Awesome. I really relate to what you said about losing the intensity of Voice/vision . . . and writing like a newspaper instead. I find that my first drafts usually read like newspapers and I add the intensity during the revision.
    Happy writing!!

  3. 3 books in 24 hours!
    You gotta sleep… and write… but you are back on track!

    Stay Alive
    N

  4. Wow, that’s a lot of reading.

    Glad to hear you’re back on track!

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