Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jim, James, John ... help! I'm suffering from character drift!

So I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo this year - you know, National Novel Writing Month. I barely even made a dent in a new project. But I did do something right - I ordered the book "No Plot? No Problem" by Chris Baty, the original founder of the annual program.

It's a great book - it's funny, motivating, filled with lots of tips and writing tricks. And through it, I found out that I'm not only one who suffers from a little something that Chris refers to as "character drift."

Maybe you suffer from it, too. It occurs when a character starts off as a Tim, then becomes Tom, and finally ends up as Jim. For me, I've found it happens not so much with first names, but with last.

With my latest project, poor Betsy McMichaels in chapters one, two and three became Betsy McWilliams in chapters eight and nine. Of course, as long as you know you do it, it's easy enough to watch for - now I keep a list of my characters posted - easy to see and check.

You know, I should have known I had a tendency toward character drift. After all, in ninth grade science, I was assigned a semester report on codeine and ended up doing a big report on cocaine.

I still got the credit, but it just wasn't the same. The teacher looked at me like I was high on both.

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