I wrote a post a while ago called The Voices in My Head, about how characters are the heart of a story, and how to create characters that are truly alive.
Now the negative of that is if you bring characters to life, they stay that way. In your head. All the time.
Besides the obvious problem with your sanity, this can be a problem with your writing. As you know, I’ve been writing my WIP Nightfire. Meanwhile, I’ve been querying my MS Ember, but in the process have received feedback and started with some more edits and tweaks. Before, I’ve never had an issue with multiple characters, because I’ve only really worked on one manuscript at a time.
Now that’s changed, and I have two voices in my head–a split personality.
How do I navigate this, when characters are the heart of the story? It is hard not to lose the exact pitch of their voices, when they are both talking at once. Normally, I am engulfed in one world, one story, one voice. I know exactly how they think, how they would react, what they would do, because that is what I am surrounded by. I am lost in it. But how do I lose myself, in two places at once?
I have never seriously written two works at once, and have always heard of authors who can, and do. Some have written up to four books in a year! Maybe it is possible, but I am not sure how they stay true to each story, and distinct from the others.
When I go back for edits, I have to read through a scene or two, and re-ground myself in the world. Remember the exact tone of Falcon’s voice, the heartbeat of her world. Then when I reach a block in edits, I go back to Nightfire. I have to read through again, find Kera’s voice, the pulse of her story. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I get lost in between, or with both at once. Sometimes I think I’ve found it, and a trace of Falcon will slip through, or vice versa.
This is a problem because Kera and Falcon, though they are similar in many ways, are also very different. They have entirely different ways of reacting and dealing with situations. I’ve found that in some scenes, Kera will snap or lash out–when that is not her character, but Falcon’s. I have to step back and re-evaluate. Focus on her voice, and feel her emotions.
It’s not perfect, but neither is writing. I think the key is truly knowing both Kera and Falcon, and being able to recognize when one is not being true to her character.
Have you ever worked on two stories at once, maybe even more? How did you handle it, and keep them both separate and true? Even if you haven’t worked on more than one story, how do you separate voices when it comes to a new story?