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Increasing Your Creativity/Suddenly can't get into my characters heads.



Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully pass along a little advice. I'm writing my first book (children's middle grade) and have been for about 2 years. I take very long breaks! My characters are quite developed, but I suddenly feel like I can't get into their heads to figure out what should come next. I think I need some character development exercises to help me strengthen their personalities. It doesn't help that I take long breaks and become unfamiliarized with them. My biggest problem is that the main characters are 12 years old, and I feel like maybe I am giving them a "too young mentality". Any advice?

Hello Sarah:

Oh dear, you have hit on my two flabby spots. They say you should "let" your characters tell the story - hah! I can't get my characters to say a word. They don't even seem to be present in the story but watching it, from a distance. At least one other expert said, that's ridiculous. It's your story, not your characters' and you must control it.

Sometimes, something I write brings them to life, but it happens very seldom. When it does, I can 'feel' it. It is always connected with trying to convey some deep emotion. It's happened to me exactly once.

I've got you beat when it comes to long breaks. I've been working on my youth book for over 20 years - talk about some long breaks. At 74, I despair of ever finishing it. I have AADD and it's very hard for me to stick with anything, and impossible to stick to any schedule I make for myself.

The only advice I can give you is to

1. Find a good writers' group and put your work up there. Ask your fellow writers the same questions you have asked me.

2. There are two kinds of stories, character-driven and plot-driven. Perhaps your book "wants" to be plot-driven (another ridiculous idea, but it did help me). You can google to find the difference.

3. I don't know what age group you are aiming at, but take a look at some well-known works for that market - your Children's Librarian can point you to some. I think you'll find there's not very much character development there. Remember, young children don't read to find out how/why people act. They are looking for action and adventure.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores over 950 questions.

Good luck with your book, and thank you for writing!

Increasing Your Creativity

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Susan Rand


Questions about writing in general, creativity (how to make your writing totally YOU - unique as you are); how to make it stand out from the competition; how to spark your creative juices; how to make it flow; how to make your characters seem like real people; how to control emotion in the reader and much more! Please no homework questions.


I have been writing and teaching writing for several decades. I have written 5 books and several short stories. Over the years I have read and studied many books on "how to write." I can correct spelling and usage mistakes, and I know punctuation.

BA in the Humanities, with an emphasis on Written Communication, 1982

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