Character Development Woes


Reverting back to my old way of writing took some doing, but then suddenly it kicked in and I started typing away like a mad woman.

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I even ended up reaching a juncture whereupon my first draft came back around to coincide and agree with this tenth draft! Honestly never expected for that to happen just a week ago.

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

However …

I still agree with the critics who read my work that the main character’s … character … is underdeveloped and lifeless.

😦 😦 😦 😦 😦

I know him all too well, feel a connection to him and his mindset, can even picture him life-like inside my mind, and yet on paper (in print) there is something extraordinary missing. Something only I am capable of producing in print to make him come alive in print.

It isn’t that he isn’t believable but that he doesn’t resonate in the story itself.

He isn’t making himself available to the reader or even me, the author and his creator.

😦 😦 😦 😦 😦

He is and does inside my head, though!

Like I said, he’s been with me for years now, so I know him about as well as I know a majority of my other characters, but I have to agree with the critics that my antagonist had more flare, more vivacity, and more character than the protagonist. My poor, sweet Neal.

😦 😦 😦 😦 😦

 Could it be I over-sympathize with him, thus making the writing less … how shall we say … inviting to anything other than safety from harm? Am I being the over-protective mother-figure again? I’m not sure, really.

In the opening paragraph I give him grace, appeal, and outside interest, describing his features, his effect on those around him, and his insight into what he sees on that street. The love of his life.

A few paragraphs down, though, I force him to encounter a beat cop ticketing him for a ballet-like jaywalking incident, and once he is able to approach this woman, whom he truly believes is the right woman this time, after years of searching and wondering about her, to have to accept the fact that she is with another man.

In the second chapter, I give him renewed hope by way of a news report on the Entertainment segment, so he decides to seek out this woman a second time by way of the beat cop (there is a relationship/connection there that isn’t actually revealed until later – to give the reader one impression before shedding light on things) but again, while he feels compelled and justified to be there, he still ends up seeing something he would rather not; her being kissed by the antagonist.

He’s plunged into darkness again and is ready to walk away for good when she turns and walks away instead, renewing him yet again. He stays, he invokes her to approach, and when she follows, his spirit rises along with his hopes of a delightful future.

Chapter three opens with his falling asleep aboard the plane they are on, going back to the time when they first met and how it made him feel. The why of his tenacity after so many years. However, he ends up losing track of her at the airport, bringing back the initial fear of losing her a second time. She finds him this time, and they have a few minutes to spare before her connecting flight, which gives her the chance to fill him in on a few details that hadn’t and wouldn’t occur to him in all this time. He starts to learn a bit more about this woman and why things turned out the way they did years ago.

Again, he’s on the brink of losing something he thinks is precious when her flight is delayed and then cancelled. Happy again, he invites her to his place when she refuses, explaining rather fearfully about her not wanting to be where she is and has no intention of ever going back in time or to the place where they first met.

Hopes dashed again. She borrows his phone to make a call, though, and while he is fearful of losing her, she suddenly perks up and ends up agreeing to spend a bit more time with him. He’s elated now. His mind is reeling with the possibilities, the hopes, dreams, and pleasant memories. He’s also now cognizant of her feelings, though, which don’t coincide with his and he knows he needs to approach her on a different level using a different set of rules.

At his place, she learns about his career in music and is delighted to know he made something of himself, having always suspected he was bound for greatness. Then they approach his room, and she seems willing to oblige when a pair of arms encircle his waist outside his bedroom door. Seconds later, they can hear the pass code being typed and another woman enters the house. His phone rings and she can hear a third woman’s voice because he has stopped her from walking away, begging her not to get the wrong idea.

They end up back at the airport, where she books a later flight and leaves.

Now … this occurs within the first three chapters, and I think the story itself is progressing nicely, but not Neal’s character. I feel like there is something huge missing in the telling of his true intentions, his true nature, and his real personality, but I honestly don’t know if that is even the problem.

There is just something missing … something that isn’t working about him … and I can’t figure out what it is or why it’s that way.

Very frustrating.

I think, maybe it’s because I’m writing this particular story from his perspective and not hers?

I wonder, is it because I’m afraid to tell too much right away that he’s somehow left to hang out to dry?

I feel, as I read my writing, that it is crystal clear in my head yet not coming across that way in my writing.

The poor guy crashes and burns so many times throughout this tale that I might actually be offering him a few too many safety nets or something, and that maybe this has a lot to do with his not coming through as someone memorable? Is this even possible? Is it the up and down that is throwing everyone off about him? I don’t know. I actually like the roller coaster ploy in a romance. I prefer that there be yin and yang throughout a majority of the story before anything serious or climactic occurs, giving me a greater sense of who these people are and why they are the way they are before the two end up making any decisions without my greater knowledge.

I especially adore the love stories that start out one way, with the leading woman (or man) romantically involved with someone else, and as the story proceeds, a new, more meaningful relationship grows between the two leads, creating something unexpected yet thrilling (for me) instead of just the two leads bickering and bitching for a majority of the story before finally caving toward the end.

Neal’s story doesn’t develop that way for a reason, though, and because it’s his story. He’s never forgotten someone despite his having moved on, created a life for himself, and done well in the world. He’s attractive enough to have had many love interests, but because of this initial encounter with the leading lady, the other relationships are compare/contrast and end up never materializing.

He’s got to come to grips with his past, realize that he’s been living in a half-baked, unrealistic way, and needs to decide what is best for him and his future happiness. With or without the leading lady, who ends up being a reminder of that past he’s suddenly being asked to let go of and move away from.

Ah … I think I just realized something. I said it earlier, didn’t I? I’m holding too much back and perhaps that’s the problem. Maybe it might work better if I were to intersperse the back story throughout as opposed to dropping it in the leading lady’s (and the reader’s) lap in one chapter.

Where is the suspense in doing it that way, though? Is it alright for me to keep going the way it is and have the readers slowly come to the same conclusions as the leading lady does and will? Even the leading man? His true character has to slowly build in order for this cliff hanger to work, I think.


Okay, so I agree with myself on that count, which means I’m still in need of a way to make Neal shine a bit brighter at the start. But how?

Wow. I just looked out the window, and there is a male Cardinal and a male Blue Jay lurking about on the wet lawn. 🙂

Ha! I so didn’t mean for that to happen, did I? Has my muse just spoken? The antagonist is the Jay, and Neal is the Cardinal. The Jay is louder and more aggressive, while the Cardinal is more pronounced and easily spotted. However, my readers would agree that Neal seems more like the Jay than the Cardinal.

Ah! Maybe it should be that way. Maybe the reader shouldn’t want to connect right away, until later, when all of the puzzle pieces are put together save that last one … the one you need to hunt for until you find it and then the picture becomes clear.

The underdog.

Heck, I wonder if I’m not just blowing things out of proportion again (like always) because when people see the cover for this story, they’ll like him even before they begin to read.

Henrik Fallenius

Henrik Fallenius

😉  Just kidding.

I’ll figure this one out. I think. I hope. I pray.

Sigh …



About RaineBalkera

Aspiring Author of Romance
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