I recently decided to expand on an a piece I submitted to my writing class. I wanted to make it a long short story as opposed to the flash fiction piece it was. However, it was written in first person, and I decided to change it to third. I wrote the first three parts and bits and pieces of other parts as they came to me.
I sent off the completed pieces to two trusted friends that are honest (the same two out of three that assisted me with the whole name-changing dilemma) and both liked it. However, one indicated there was a transition issue from part one to part two. I realized that I assumed the reader would get what happened, which she did, but it was too “jump the shark-y” and it didn’t make sense to her.
So, I went in to insert a scene to ease the transition. That’s where I started having problems with my MC. The story didn’t work. It felt clichéd and overdone. My dialogue, which is the easiest for me to write, was giving me grief. What is going on? I was feeling good about my story, now I was wondering what went wrong.
Then a voice began to speak. It was my MC. “I know what I’m doing. Why are you trying to make me into this innocent woman that falls for the ploys of a man? I’ve got dirt, I have agendas and I really don’t care if people like me. And another thing, I look damn good and I know it.”
That was it. The reason my story started to crumble was because in my rewrite to change the POV, I rewrote the MC into something she wasn’t. She was originally portrayed as a bit of a vixen in the flash fiction piece, but somehow in my rewrite I attempted to make her more likeable, a victim of circumstance. I was no longer true to her. And as crazy as it sounds, she let me know. So, after she checked me, I went back, revisited the original and took another go at the first two parts.
And voila! The dialogue flowed and the story began to gel again. I cleaned up that missing transition scene that I’d struggled with and now the story feels right. My MC is happy being a somewhat of a bad girl, and that’s really the point of it all. Even though I created the characters, the story is theirs and it’s my job as the writer to tell it accurately.
So, if you find yourself struggling a bit with your characters, try listening to them. When you listen to the voices, it all comes together.