As you’re writing (on a new/current project), do you sometimes find yourself creating scenes / characters / dialog that sound VERY familiar. And after you stop and think, you realize you’ve used them before in other stories? If so, do you continue on… or shift gear
In answer to today’s question, I’d have to say that yes upon occasion I’ve found myself having to switch gears because something sounds too familiar. In terms of characters I’m not guilty quite so much. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I don’t like perfect characters. They’re so boring and unrealistic. I always enjoy deciding what little imperfection I’ll give to my characters. I sometimes get in trouble for it too. In one of my books my readers complained that the heroine was wishy-washy, and my hero was too powerful. He was powerful, but she wasn’t wishy-washy. She’d just had her life turned upside down and was emotionally a mess. I’ve written another heroine that I know everyone is going to just hate. I haven’t decided yet whether to tone her down a little or not, but I can’t help liking her. What’s her problem? She’s mad at the world and not without cause.
When it comes to scenes I don’t remember a lot of repetition in my work. I’ve written about many different types of people, and that probably makes a difference when I’m writing scenes.
Dialogue is where I have to be careful. I have a couple of catchy phrases that I constantly have to strike because I know I’ve used them before. Other than that writing about such diverse characters probably helps here too. People from different social backgrounds may sound very different. For example, in my romantic comedy Fortuna two thugs who worked for my villain said, “It don’t have nothing to do with zits.” I can’t see my hero saying that, but if you’ve read the book you know it’s exactly what the thug would say. (It would take too long to explain why the thug was talking about zits, but it was a pivotal moment in the story.)
I think writers have to be careful though. It would be very easy to fall into an old, comfortable pattern with your work, and no one wants to do that.