Character Development by Annmarie Miles
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Annmarie Miles as she shares with us “Character Development.” Enjoy!
I’m kinda cheating this month. I won’t be sharing much advice, although I hope it may give you some food for thought… 🙂 I suppose what I’m doing, is thinking out loud about a little writing conundrum I’m pondering; hoping you might chip in with your thoughts.
Here’s the thing!
I write a short children’s story for a local weekly newspaper. I have just sent off the 100th installment of The Life and Times of Lizzy Redmond. It does feel like a bit of a milestone and I’m proud of little Lizzy.
However, for some time I have wondered if maybe I should wrap it up and bring the whole thing to an end. I would much rather have people sorry that she is gone and remember her fondly, than for her to grind to a slow halt and readers be glad she’s gone because she was getting boring. Or worse, not caring one way or the other.
In discussions about her, I have been asked why she can’t just carry on indefinitely. I’ve put some thought into that and have come up with a few reasons why I think it might be time to start bringing her story to a close.
- I aged her. I’m not sure whether this was a good or bad idea, but I gave her an age and have celebrated her birthdays. So it means that she is growing up and there are milestones to do with school etc. that are coming up.
- As seasons like Christmas and Halloween come around, it’s hard to find fresh things to say about them.
- As time goes on, I’m finding it harder to write for the faithful readers who know her, while at the same time inviting new readers in. I’m never sure I’m getting the balance right.
- All good things must come to an end. I know it’s a cliché, but there are plenty of TV series and movie franchises that have had their day and moved on. I don’t compare Lizzy in ANY way to the Friends series, but the characters grew up. They had babies, bought houses… it’s a circle of life thing.
One thing I have done to give her a new lease of life in 2016 is to be more deliberate about the continuity of her narrative. Almost all Lizzy installments are the tale of an isolated incident. There have been a handful of threads that have continued for a short series, but most weeks tell a ‘new’ story. Recently, however, I’ve opened up a plot line that will continue for a few months. I feel the only way she can finish well is to reach her own life milestone (think ‘Friends’ again). To do that, she needs to not just develop, but blossom as a character. My thinking is that she needs one plot line to follow to bring her to that point; as opposed to the many little anecdotes that have previously made up her life.
So there you have it. Thank you for reading and letting me think out loud. I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts to share. If you’re interested in reading some of the Lizzy back stories you can read them on www.annmariemiles.com/lizzyredmond
Have you had a character or story line that you just knew was over?
How did you bring it to an end?
Have you any tips of ‘finishing well’?
Please drop a comment below, would love you to share your experience. That’s the great thing about the WFZ writing community – we’re all learning together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annmarie Miles, part time writer, full time believer is 40something, Irish, Christian, married, and proud to be all of those things. She loves words, music & chocolate! You can find out all about her and her book The Long & The Short of It.
Where to find Annmarie:
Personal Blog: www.auntyamo.com
Writing Blog: www.annmariemiles.com/blog