Feeling Disconnected to My Characters

I’m sticking to my NaNoWriMo schedule, but I’ve developed an aversion to my character. She sounds whiney and self-pitying, though she’s only grieving, but I need to make her sympathetic, special, someone a reader would care about. She is not coming alive for me.

Often books start with a scene that shows the hero in action, perhaps doing something noble or self-sacrificing, or just being strong and vulnerable. Something that immediately makes the reader feel a connection. But how can I make the reader feel connected, when I don’t feel connected to the character? Which is odd, considering that she is me. Sort of. I only know my grief, so that part of me is part of her. The story, of course, is fiction.

One of my problems is that she carried on a cyber affair when her husband was dying (her daughter caught her at it, which is why the mother and daughter are at odds). I have to make the widow realistic enough so that people will believe that she can be in love with one man (who she hasn’t met yet) while grieving another. In today’s society, loving another negates grief, but from talking to people who have had more than one husband die, grief for one man and love for another can live side by side.

So, what problems are you encountering in your work in progress? How are you making your characters sympathetic, special, someone readers would care about? Do you feel a connection to them? Do you need to feel a connection to write the character?

4 Responses to “Feeling Disconnected to My Characters”

  1. thejinx Says:

    I certainly need a connection to write a character well, though I’m also finding that with my NaNoWriMo novel for this year, I’m struggling with keeping characters from being whiny and self-pitying as well. It’s a difficult balance when you have a dramatic story, and I give you props for tackling a difficult issue there. Good luck!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m holding to the thought that there are two great chisels in a writer’s toolbox — rewriting and editing. If she ends up being too whiney, I can also rewrite when I have more time to figure out what she can say or do to make her more sympathetic.

  2. Sarah G Says:

    I am trying to figure out what my hero will do when he realizes that he knows the killer. I’m sure my hero will be trying to figure out what to do, too. The killer is a former patient, and he only has his suspicions to work with… no evidence that he can legally reveal.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m in a no evidence situation, too. My grieving woman begins to wonder if her husband killed someone before he died, and there’s no way for her to find out. I’ll probably have to resort to the secret in the journal cliche.

      Best of luck this month! Sounds like you have your hands full.


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