Stuckness. It’s a thing. There are days when my dialogue falls flat on the page, and my scenes feel stilted and false. When this happens, I know it’s because I don’t understand my characters well enough.
Who are they? What makes them tick?
I’ve been working on this list of questions to help me get underneath their skin. Even if these questions never get answered in the novel, they help me think about my characters in new ways, to root beneath their surfaces and sniff out the secrets they’re hiding.
– What is she afraid of?
– Who does she admire?
– What haunts him?
– Who does she not like that she “should”?
– Is there something she suspects, but is afraid to find out?
– What does he want more than anything else?
– Who do people think he is versus who is he really?
– Is there something he fears getting caught doing?
– Does she have irrational feelings towards someone or something?
– What does she admire about herself that she wishes others would notice?
– What important thing is he ignoring?
– What question does she dread being asked?
– What is her body saying that her mouth is not?
– Are there any places she avoids going? (where + why?)
– When does he pretend to feel something that he does not?
These questions never fail to unearth good, juicy stuff that gets me closer to what should happen next. Stuckness, begone.