Reply To: WRITING EXERCISE #1 – Continuing to Explore Character Back Story

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Emily Marsh

From this one, I learned a few things about my character and a little bit about an issue or two I’m having with writing her voice. The question that helped me the most was about what is keeping the character from the perfect life she wants. I knew what was keeping her from it — and what she thought was keeping her from it — but writing it out has helped me clarify how she’s phrasing all this to herself.

What is actually keeping her from the life she wants is excessive deference to her family and a desire to protect the people she loves from pain.  She also loves her family and wants to be part of it and do right by them, so she joins the family law fir, and her professional life takes up more space than she’s really comfortable with, and it also bores her to tears. Protecting people with her giant brain and high energy is kind of her thing, and she’s stuck moving money around for rich people. Likewise, she got engaged to a person who fit nicely into her life and who she really liked/was attracted to. She’s stayed with him because her love for him and her desire not to hurt him and her sense of responsibility to him are keeping her there. She’s also confused about how she loves him. It’s a close friendship to someone she thinks is hot, but there’s no THERE there. Having never really had “there,” she thinks she’s in love while knowing underneath that there should be more. She’s not willing to make someone she loves miserable because she needs some sort of amorphous “more.”

She’s phrasing this to herself as excessive pickiness. She thinks she’s one of those people who can’t be happy no matter how much they are given, and the job issue and the marriage issue are reinforcing each other. She has a fiancee who’s awesome and a great job, and she can’t be happy with either! It MUST be that she’s never happy with anything.



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