I’ll pose the question: How do I turn away from character development, and focus instead on plot advancement?
Here’s the thing. When I write- at least, when I write this particular story- I am attempting to tell the story of characters that my imagination birthed ten years ago. For me, once a character is created, it’s as though my mind forgets that they are my creation, and perceives them as a whole, complete being who’s story is just waiting to be told- by me. So I have known these characters- these people, really- for ten years.
I know them now so much better than I used to, for children always have a bit of a skewed perception of reality- and non-reality. Things are different when we are young; we think we know people, until we grow up and take a look at their souls and realize that we never really knew them to begin with, and are only just now seeing who they really are.
So on that note, I keenly feel the emotions of these people (characters). I have grown up with them. I have spent ten years with their thoughts and feelings and motives teeming in my brain. It’s a wonder my own thoughts fit. Sometimes my mind feels full to bursting with their longing- their story wants to be told but I am the only one with the voice to do it. But my voice falters me all too often, which is why that story is yet to be told.
(As I write this I am struck with the need to apologize to them.)
(I’m sorry, my beautiful souls. I know the pain in waiting, silently, knowing there is nothing you can do to move circumstances forward. I’m sorry that your voices are all obscured and mixed up, so I have trouble understanding what you’re asking of me- the story you’re trying to tell me. You are all so beautiful to me- my beautiful messes- and I love you. I’m sorry.)
That said, my problem is that I can’t get out of their heads, much like they shall never leave my mind. Turns out I can be incredibly focused, and all I can focus on is my people (characters), and what they’re thinking and feeling, and how they interact with each other, and how they carry themselves, and dress themselves, and what they like to listen to, and how they deal with trauma, and what makes them hurt, and- do you see my problem?
They matter so much to me. So much, in fact, that that’s all I can focus on when I write their story. I write them, and not the story. I have plot partially mapped out in my head- that is to say I know what happens in their story for the most part- I just don’t know how to focus on it enough to get it written down accurately and succinctly. It’s true, I want to write a character driven novel rather than plot driven, but I still need plot progression to tell a cohesive story. I like the plot of this story, make no mistake, I’m just more interested in how the plot affects my people (characters) than how the plot plays out.
The thing is, no one wants to read a book about people (characters) they don’t know intimately, and they can only know them intimately when they comprehend and understand the circumstances those people (characters) go through; when they witness the events first hand.
So ultimately, what I’m asking for is advice. What suggestions do you have for how to focus more on plot, and just get the meat of the story written, without dedicating obscene amounts of time to character development (which can obviously be filled in later)?
(Links to advice is appreciated also, but I am longing to hear original, spur-of-the-moment thoughts and opinions and suggestions.)