Like A Good Vampire Hunter You Must Find The Heart

As I stated in a recent blog my current Work In Progress centers around a person who does some really bad things.  The story basically consists of his POV, the POV of a cop, and then littered throughout is the story are flashbacks of how the main character came to be this way.

Now I started writing the POV of the main character and kept running into roadblocks.  As my prior blog touched on I struggled with making sure he didn’t come off as merely a psychopath, but have more layers and hopefully even be sympathetic.   Well after a lot of struggling I decided to take some time and begin writing the flashback sequences and that is when I found, THE HEART.

I have a basic outline of what happens in the story and who the main character is, but as anyone knows things “evolve” as you write them.  I was trying to write a character I didn’t fully understand.  The flashbacks changed from simply being about the trying times of his life to also encompassing the normal times as well.  You can’t understand what someone has lost if you don’t know what they had.  So naturally you can’t say what someone will become because of these losses if you don’t show how they have changed his life.

Suddenly I have begun to better understand the character and can have him drive the story to where it needs to go, instead of simply trying to force it where I want it to go.

Hopefully this is understandable and doesn’t just come off as the ramblings of a madman.  Basically I guess the point I am trying to make is that today I learned that a story is usually better told from the beginning.  Who’da thunk it?

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Like A Good Vampire Hunter You Must Find The Heart

  1. I love flashbacks when they’re not just thrown in there for drama’s sake. It sounds like you’ve got a handle on making them relevant to the story.

  2. Yeah buddy! Us madmen must unite!

    Gotta find the heart, that is gospel.
    Have you tried mapping the character completely out?
    This might sound goofy, I do this sometimes, but go into a room that is dead quiet, close the door, sit in a chair, and stare at the wall. Really, and I mean really, try to put yourself inside your character. Let them steer you and see where you go. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    If you have found the heartbeat though, sally forth while the writing/riding is good.

    • That we do.
      Actually I’m going to take your character creating/developing advice you gave in one of your recent blogs. I have this character down but I have another very important character I need to breathe life to

  3. I go through the same struggles with my current work-in-progress! My main character becomes a cold-hearted murderer, and I too am trying to keep the audience on her side, and round out her background to give glimpses into a past that could have made her this way. It’s tricky work, that’s for sure. I spend a lot of time going into flashbacks – small scenes that give the audience a better understanding of the character.

    Good luck!!

    • Same to you!
      I think with a character we are trying to develop you either have to make them so unpredictable or inhuman they are scary, or so relate-able they seem like they could be someone you know.

  4. Don’t you love when the lightbulb comes on! One technique I use as I try to get to know my characters is to “interview” them on paper. I put on my Oprah hat, ask them questions from me and then let them answer in their own voice. I too have a character who has done some bad things, but through this, I realized he wasn’t just a pure narcissist but has daddy issues, so that made him a bit more sympathetic to me, which hopefully will with the readers. Congrats! Keep rocking!

  5. Even if the snippets you are called to write are not in chronological order, I feel that you have to have the basic chronology of the story fixed in your head. It’s your map that you can refer back to so you know what this piece or that piece fits.

    I’m writing my story chronologically and presenting on my blog. I know I have to have a few flashbacks because I forgot a few important details that will help readers understand the decisions I made or didn’t make at points in the story I’m coming up to. But the timeline is critical so that the flashbacks have purpose and smooth transition.

    Hope that helps. It’s just my opinion, but I wanted to share it.

    • Good advice!
      I had the chronology mapped out in my head, but my struggle was that since I didn’t start out writing the very beginnings of my character (instead I picked him up during his “darker” times) I didn’t truly understand what he would be like. When I began writing out his history I got a better understanding of him and (hopefully) made his turn and current actions more believable. Instead of generic movie bad guy. 🙂

  6. Naoko sits legs crossed, head down, in a corner of the room.

    Detective Ben Wayne sits about thirty feet away in one of two chairs that are at a table.

    NAOKO
    Let me start from the beginning…

    Yup, I know what you mean… In my Screenplay White Jade, I use Flash Backs quite often, but as H.E. inferred, not when they’re simply Contrived Techniques for Drama’s sake. I use them to educate the Audience, so that they are able to make Educated decisions/observations about what’s happening in the present. Phew… Or something like that. Also the Interview Idea that Kimberly Packard suggested is indeed an excellent idea whilst attempting to flush a Character out, but beyond that, it also gives that Character Anima (or as Wesbster says Anima = an individual’s true inner self that in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects archetypal ideals of conduct), Life as it were… The more a Character Speaks, be it in the Story, or outside the Story such as a Written Interview, the More Life the Character has in general. I remember when I was in a Band I created a Character that I would Portray during Rehearsals some times, his name was Jack True. At a later Date I actually started a Documentary following this Fictional Character around town as he prepared for a Show as it were. Recently in my Blog I did an Interview with said Character which is here http://darkjade68.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/jack-true-an-interview-with-a-phantom-rocker/ . Sounds like you’re on the right track, keep it up/Good Luck

    DarkJade-

  7. “You can’t understand what someone has lost if you don’t know what they had.”

    Brilliant. And characters are, of course, key. I like to let my characters tell me where they want to go in a story. If the character is properly developed, they will tell you what they want to say. Then the dialogue comes easy.

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