Thursday, July 4, 2013

Don't Hold Back

Last week while pondering my current WIP I decided to gather up some of my old copies of the SCBWI bulletins. I revisited articles I have dog-eared throughout them hoping to find new inspiration. In the Jan/Feb 2012 an article caught my attention. In "Don't Hold Back" Joelle Anthony discusses her realization that her characters were holding back. They were thinking of doing something, but not doing anything for some reason or another.

I'm guilty of doing this as well. Too often I find myself rewriting scenes during the editing process to allow my characters to react realistically, and not as an adult would. Basically, I'm holding them back.
I'm glad I ran across this article again. I needed this reminder going into a major rewrite on my current WIP.

Anthony suggests allowing your characters to react the way they want to. Even if you open a new document to do so and never end up using it. You may learn something new from your characters or have a great new scene. She suggests going through your manuscripts looking for key phrases such as, "I wanted to, I tried, I wished, I lost my nerve, ..."

When I reread my manuscript this month I will be highlighting every instance where I use one of those phrases. Hopefully this will help me create a little new direction with my WIP and make it better.

After all, I was a very emotional teen. So why can't my teen characters be emotional as well? There really ins't a good reason not to let them let go now and then. Of course, they shouldn't let go all the time, but occasionally they should. Especially if it will help round out their character and further the story.

Are you holding back your characters?


  1. There is nothing I dislike more than characters that never do anything, or react in any kind of way. I love characters that act, and react, and aren't afraid to show emotion, even if it doesn't always work out. I definitely agree that we should let our characters do what they want, even if we occasionally have to rein them back in, =P

    1. I know the feeling. I get rather annoyed when characters are constantly holding back. I need to pay attention to my own characters holding back as well.

      Thanks for stopping by! :-)