A little over half my adult life ago, I devised the greatest character of my life. Now I dream of nothing more than beating him to death with a shovel.
The problem is, I love this guy. I've just never been able to find the right story to go with him. Normally, that's not a problem for me, but this character is so rich, so good, so complex, that no story I put him in does him justice.
I've said it before ‒ characters are jerks. They're willful, spiteful, stubborn little children who refuse to go quietly. To get them to do what you want takes a sound thrashing, and lots of tormenting them with obstacles, traps, and enemies you'd never in a million years want to encounter for yourself.
And herein lies the rub ‒ I love this character so much, I don't want to hurt him. I've committed the biggest sin a writer can commit ‒ I've become emotionally attached to one of my own creations.
Being a guy, I now want to kick his ass, because he's brought me no end of grief. If he were a female character, I'd want to cheat on her with a hot waitress who looks just like her!
Especially if she looks like this!
I've written tons of stories since I first came up with the guy (and his too-perfect name), but after every story I write, I read it back and think "Still gotta figure out John's story…"
Writers are weirdoes, of course. We all know that. And it's an occupational hazard to become bonded to our characters and stories. These creatures are our offspring. We nurture them, develop them, hurl challenges at them, and, in the end, save their souls. And it's hard for us to put them out in the world, because letting go takes courage.
And once in a while, we go off the deep end and develop a story or a character that we just can't git r' done with. We can't just pound it out. Can't just throw a character into any old thing.
For all you overprotective writer parents out there, I just want to say, you're not alone. I don't have an answer for you, but you're not alone. All of us have that one story in our heads, or that one character in our brains, that just defies all attempts to put it down. A lot of us overcome it, which I hope to do too.
But I don't know. This character of mine owns my ass. And I'd really like to get it back.
How 'bout you? Got a character or a plot or an idea that's been haunting you forever? Leave the world a comment below, we'd all like to know about it.