Writing Wednesday: What’s a Character Without a Plot?

Good morning, lovely blog viewers!

Today is the beginning of a new series that I hope will “WIP” (hehe get it?) my writing butt back into shape: Writing Wednesday! As you can see from my “My Writing History” page, I used to do a lot of writing a couple of years ago, but my time management has been lacklustre at best, and my writing has suffered because of it. By starting this series, which will range from discussions about the problems I have with writing to quickly-written prompts/writing exercises, I’m hoping to get my creative juices flowing and maybe solve some problems in the process, all the while hearing from you about your writing!

Today I’m going to discuss a problem I’ve always had, which is the habit of thinking up characters before I think of an actual story. Now, whenever I have thought of an actual plot before characters, the characters themselves have come to me pretty easily. The first trilogy I wrote was a plot first, but the characters came rushing out of my brain almost immediately.

Unfortunately, I have a bit of trouble when it goes the other way around.

That’s where I’m at right now with my soon-to-be WIP. There’s a character bouncing around my head, itching to be written on a page, but no story to put them in. I could tell you what they look like and what their personality is like, but right now they’re just floating in vast nothingness, waiting for gravity to pull them towards a purpose. I can’t even decide whether I want to put them in a contemporary or an action-adventure (possible sci-fi/fantasy). These are two very different genres, and my character could grow in two very different ways in both.

So, what’s a girl to do when she doesn’t have a story for a her character? Here’s my plan:

1. Think about the story you want to tell.

There’s likely a reason why I came up with this character, and so there must be a storyline that also fits this reason. What kind of message am I trying to get across with this character? What is this character supposed to represent? What kind of story will best showcase and develop the messages that I am trying to get across? This will probably take a lot of thinking and self-reflection, but if that’s what it takes to get me to the outlining stage, then so be it.

2. Be open to inspiration.

I should start reading more books and taking in more story-like content. I need to listen to more music and open my mind to the possibilities that lay ahead of me. You never know where inspiration may strike, but it may not have the opportunity to strike if I don’t expose myself to more creative works.

3. Write more.

On that creative note, maybe all I need is a good word-vomit, you know? Maybe if I can get my own creative juices flowing with short stories and ten-minute prompts, then more stories will spring forward and give me something to work with.

Whatever the solution, this is definitely a problem that is going to take some time and focus to fix. Luckily I’ll be going on a kind of retreat very soon, so hopefully inspiration will strike while I’m there!

Have you ever had this kind of character-without-plot writer’s block before? How did you solve it? If not, what kind of problems do you find you run into when writing? Let’s discuss them in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Becca

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