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What I’m Writing: Character Consistency

April 14, 2012

This week I’ve been overtly concerned about character consistency. I was writing along and all of a sudden I was all, ‘Oh my God. What if I’ve somehow started writing Dan as if he’s totally different from the Dan at the beginning?! And holy bazoo, what about Willa? Would she actually say that?’

It’s a very chilling thought. Because, yes, as a writer you want your characters—especially teenage characters—to learn and grow, but you also want them to still be them. Unless you’re writing a paranormal or fantasy novel, it’s not like your characters are going to suddenly be radically different. (At least typically. I’m sure there’s a good example of it somewhere.)

And while I think I’m exaggerating the issue, I have been writing super slowly this week because I weigh everything. Instead of just writing as quickly as I can make my fingers type, I’ve been really considering my characters’ reactions and motivations and inherent traits. Which is actually probably going to drive me (more) bonkers at some point.

And, y’all. I really don’t need to be more bonkers.

So I need to buck up and just write and write and write, and worry about character consistently later.

Hopefully this is just a phase that I can shrug off and not have to fight. Because fighting myself is NO FUN. Especially when you’re SO CLOSE to finishing the first draft.

But I’ll stop bemoaning and give you a little snippet of stuff I’ve written this week. Since I gave you a Willa scene last week, here is a Dan scene. You know. For balance.

“So hey,” Sophie said, pulling me out of my thoughts.


“What are you doing for prom?”

It was just an innocent question, but it was one that rattled me. Thinking of prom made me think of last year’s prom, which I’d attended with Sophie. Before everything got so complicated. It was crazy to think that had only been a year ago. It felt so much longer than that.

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“Is Willa going to come down here?”


“Are you going to bring Willa to prom?”

It was so not a guy thing to think about, but I had thought about taking Willa to my prom. I wanted her to have that big, seminal, book-ending experience. I wanted her to get all dressed up, and meet my friends, and see my life in Dallas. I wanted us to get good and buzzed and to head to our hotel room and spend the night together, relishing the moment and not sleeping a wink.

But I wasn’t about to tell Sophie that.

“We haven’t talked about it yet, but I’m going to ask her.”

“Oh ok,” Sophie said. “Good. I think she’d like it.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. Thankfully the carhop brought us our drinks then. She was a welcome interruption. Unfortunately, Sophie was not so easily distracted.

“Well, I hope Willa gets to come to prom. It’d be nice to see her again. Just in case she, you know, turns down Mizzou.”

I nodded instead of giving an actual answer, and cranked the volume on my radio, blasting The Head and The Heart. Sophie took the hint and stared out her window. We sat there for awhile, just listening to music and drinking our cherry limeades and not saying anything. It was surprisingly not awkward. In fact, it was kind of nice. There was something about Sophie that calmed me down. And also something about her that stirred me up. But in this moment, she understood exactly what I needed. And that was to just sit and be quiet.

©Bethany Larson

 So there you have it! If you have any tips or advice or pointers or criticisms, please do feel free to let me know in comments.

Happy Saturday!

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