Characters Are People Not Robots

A couple of months ago, I had been reading over a novel I had written last year. I wanted to see if I would be able to save it or if was really dead. As I was reading, I noticed that my characters sounded like robots. There was no real reaction to the events that happened to them and when they did react it was too much. I couldn’t believe that I had done this. Was this something I could fix? I believe this situation happens to a lot of new and seasoned writers especially when you write a quick and dirty first draft. The problem was there were no sequels. Let me first explain what scenes and sequels are. If scenes are where the action happens, sequels are where the reaction happens.

So how do I fix this:

  1. Take a deep breath. If you’re like me you’re probably threatening to rip up your novel and cursing the gods for giving you such a dump idea. Chill out. This is totally fixable. All you need is some patience.
  2. Section off each scene. I usually print out the entire story and then separate it into smaller sections. For example Chapter 1 Scene 1. But this can be accomplished on scrivener or Word as well.
  3. Make a Goal, Motivation, Conflict chart for each protagonist if you don’t already have one. I even make a GMC for the antagonist as well. Make sure you take your time on this. It’s easy to just rush through this step just so you can get back to your story. This is the most important item to not make characters sound like robots. Believe me I tried to fix sequels without this and failed terribly. Knowing character’s GMC’s will help create the correct emotion you need.
  4. Go through each scene with your GMC charts and add the correct reaction to every event. This will take time so be patient. Remember Deep Breaths. I usually find that when I add sequels I try to make them short and sweet because I tend to add too much of a reaction. If they need to be longer I will add more detail. I usually like to show my characters struggling with a decision caused by the event that happened previously. I feel like this creates tension.
  5. For sequels that are too long. Trim them. Get to the meat of the reaction and move on to the action.

How do you fix sequels?


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