Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Mind over Main Character


Anyone who’s been popping in to read my blog knows I’ve been stuck in slow-mo with my WIP. The reasons are many, the biggest of which, I think, besides RL distractions, is a lack of connection to my MCs.

Sometimes, I can relate to my characters right off the bat because they resonate with me in some way. With this project, I’ve done the requisite character sketches, character building, and mental mind-melds, but I just couldn’t connect with them.

This weekend, something happened to change that. I’m not sure what, whether it boils down to “damn the torpedoes, full-steam ahead” intention to brow-beat the characters into submission, or I finally “click” with them, but I’ve managed to tap into their minds.

At some point during the first draft, I think I connected with them, but once I deep-sixed the original storyline and replaced it with a shinier one, I lost the connection.

Do you ever run into that? You create characters, mainline into their heads, then something happens to break the connection. Is it because they change in a way you don’t expect? Is it because you’ve rerouted the plot? Or maybe you didn’t have a true connection to begin with when you created them.

*Knock, knock*

I turn. Sigh. “What now?”

My Muse is leaning against the door jamb, hands tucked into the front pockets of his well-worn jeans, wearing a red and black plaid flannel shirt unbuttoned, with a white thermal shirt underneath, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms. One of my personal fave looks for him, but I’m not going to tell him that. His slow smile is a bit lopsided. “I’m proud of you, love.”

Um, this is unexpected. “Ah, okay. No ‘get your ass to work’? No ‘stay in your room until you get the next scene written’? Are you ill?”

The smile turns into a full-on grin. “No. I’m basking in the glow of a writer who’s finally thinking about her WIP, and not just when she’s in her writing room, but all the time.” He staggers the last three words. “You know that’s key. You can’tΒ not think about the story when you’re connected to it.”

“I beg to differ.”

“You won’t think about it as often if you’re not truly connected to it. Why do you suppose you’ve been having so much trouble with this WIP? You haven’t started really thinking about it until a few days ago.”

“I have been thinking about it.”

He pushes off the wall and saunters toward me. He sure seems smug. “You have, but you haven’t. A writer needs to live the story in here,” he touches my forehead, “and here,” he touches my sternum over my heart, “to direct the most creative energy. It works the best for rough drafts, the ones where you compose the core story. Revision needs it too, but a lot of revision is sanding off the edges you’ve left and fine-tuning the details, unless you’re adding scenes.

“When you steer your thought process toward the story, it’ll click eventually, and you’ll have a direct line into it.” He wraps an arm around my shoulders and pulls me in. “Now, was that worth weeks of angst?”

He smells like a cozy fire and hot cocoa. Very distracting, yet comforting. I did it. I tapped into my story so I can (re)write it. “I suppose, when you take Real Life into account.”

“The more often you do it, the better you’ll get.”

As with almost anything.

“So, it should be no problem for you to get that deep revision done by New Year’s Eve.”

Er, okay. I guess I’m digging in deep the next couple weeks.

Good luck, all, on your upcoming holiday preparations. I’ve still got cookies to bake, but with almost zero freezer space and an unseasonally warm December in MN (warm December = no outdoor freezer), I’ll have to wait until next week to do my baking. There’s nothing like fresh cookies!





Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

8 thoughts on “Mind over Main Character

  1. I was experiencing that disconnect for a while but it I think it was because the story wasn’t flowing, so I kept tripping over my characters. Lately all has been going well–with one exception–finding the time to write, which has suddenly become a huge challenge. Grr!
    Merry Christmas to you and your muse…from me and Mr. E πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so hard when you can’t figure out your characters! I had that problem for years with the novel I did for NaNoWriMo. I’m glad you had a breakthrough, hope your revisions start going smoother!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Phew, Julie. So glad you have tamed the beast! What a great feeling. For me its about getting into the flow, which requires time, big chunks of time, day after day. If I miss a few days, it’s harder for me to get back into it. So, this time of year is the pits for writing. I can’t wait for January. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya, Diana! I like bigger chunks of time to write, so I tend to sequester myself for a couple hours after supper. This time of year is tough, but since we don’t entertain guests over these holidays (we get Easter πŸ™‚ ), I don’t have to spend too much time doing those things. Except baking cookies. Lots and lots of cookies! πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sigh. I so love your muse.
    I’m so glad to read your thoughts on deep revisions and the way a character change can through a writer off course. Guess that’s why I’m holding back launching into this next huge task. Will I still love my mc once I’ve cut apart the plot? What if I tug out that one all important thread and it all unravels? Gack. Writing is not for the faint of heart. Lucky you to have such a yummy muse!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doing such a deep revision is scary, no question about it. I know the new plot is stronger than the original, and I did tweak the MCs just a tad, but that doesn’t change the unknown. I keep having to remind myself this is still the rough draft. Like, first draft 2.0. So I’m trying to keep to the NaNo mindset of just get it down, get the story out of my head, and I’ll go back later to tune it.

      Mmm, yes, he is yummy. I think he’s that way so I don’t push back so much when he gets tough with me. Just don’t let him know how appealing he is. I made that mistake once, and he showed up in a gawd-awful orange jumpsuit from the seventies complete with wide collar and flared bottoms. Hideous! I think he did it just to spite me. πŸ™‚


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