It ain’t pretty. And it’s awkward. You’re trying to get all close on the couch and he’s like stiff and I’m not talking in the heavy make-out way either (she raises an eyebrow). His two dimensional self is unable to sit on the couch and more like leans across it. So you fold him in half at the waist and knees to make him more comfortable. Now he’s just getting all bent out of shape. All the moves are made by you because his hands are permanently at his side, one neatly tucked in his pocket. No problem you’re an aggressive girl and you go in for a smooch. Instead of receiving a little tongue action in return you get yourself all inked up around the mouth and now your one sided boy toy has got a smeared up face and you’re asking yourself what you ever saw in him anyway.
Let’s replay the lunch scene from Twilight where Bella sees the Cullen’s for the first time. But instead of paying actors we’ll just use, um, cardboard character cut-outs.
Lunchroom Scene: Bella Meets the Cullen’s, Take 1
I see white forms walking to the door. A blonde, busty she has a permanent scowl because she’s made of cardboard and they don’t change, that’s Rosalie. (I think I will just get a permanent marker. Do a little squiggle here, a V there and viola: devil horns, brows and goatee.) Next is a wider white cardboard guy holding his arms in a gorilla fashion, that’s Emit. Then, with the help of movie crewman, a spinning cardboard cut out of Alice, permanently posed in a ballerina position, twirls around like a dancer. There is no graceful twirl but a constant never stopping spin because if you’re going to be cut-out in that pose forever you need to spin. When the crewman gets dizzy from spinning he attaches Alice’s cut-out to the top of a record player. Followed by her would be Jasper. Since he spends most of the movie looking terrified and deranged he might actually be a cardboard cut-out…hmm. Then the hottie, in black. But instead of the smooth walking cool kid that he is, you have another crewman teeter totter Edward on his cardboard cut-out feet. And he has to keep that broody look forever, no cute curled smile when he hears the girls giggle about him. Aren’t you drawn in? No, isn’t this working for you?
You see where I am going here? Probably not, I’m sure I sound like rambling bag lady but I do have a point. In efforts to clean up the beginning of my WIP and get to the story, I cut out a lot of back story and kept cutting until I cut out the personality of all my characters. I literally took the first few chapters of my manuscript and cut out cute little connected paper dolls and wrote a name on each one and called them characters. Ahuh. Yeah. I gave my characters a lobotomy.
Well now what? I played a little game with Chipmunk, my cheerleader beta. I asked her, Can you describe the personality of character X? Y? Z? Yes. A little. No, not really. (Z, aka MC) What about Q? (Q, aka MC’s mom, who has a secondary role at best.) Oh yes! Hmmm. (note the exclamation point) I took the same quiz before her and came up with the same answers.
What did I discover? In writing back story for my main character I wrote a lot about her relationship with her mother because as a teen I found that your parents really shape you through their actions and or reactions or lack of actions. In doing so I created a fabulous back story to my MC’s mother.
Argh! Do you feel my frustration? So today I wrote a 2500 Dear Diary for my character because she does not have a voice. Now as my WIP moves through, like say by chapter 8, her voice is much louder. That doesn’t work. So, I’m at it again. Starting over for the third and I have no doubt not the last time.