Talk to Me, Goose

Have you ever worked yourself into a corner in your writing? We all do it. We write one of those great climax moments where everything is coming to a head, it’s working, it’s fitting, the tension is high and the stakes are out of this world. We know readers are going to perch on the edge of their seat, salivating with every page turn.

…except we’ve created SUCH a good climax we don’t actually know how to get our character out of it.

It doesn’t have to be the end either. I’ve had it happen at smaller plot points elsewhere in the book, too. But for whatever reason we get momentarily stuck. We realize we’re not exactly sure WHAT our characters will do next.

We can’t yet see the brilliant solution that (no doubt) will come to us in a flash of inspiration and make everything okay again. We start to doubt our skills as writers. What if we can’t make the plot work? What if we can’t get our characters out? What if it all falls apart?
At times like these, I think of Top Gun.

Yes, that’s right. Tom Cruise in all his serenading fly boy glory. Remember the last dogfight, when he’s scared to re-engage? Everyone’s screaming at him to do something! And he whispers, “Talk to me, Goose.”

Sometimes I feel like doing the same with my characters. Talk to me. I know you’ll figure this out. I just have to close my eyes, listen and let you show me the way. What’s your next move? C’mon, talk to me.

It feels strange to pause and wait for a fictional character to provide the clarity and guidance for our next scene…but sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

Have you ever had a “Talk to me, Goose” conversation with your characters?

And just for fun...


23 comments:

  1. So many writers talk about talking to their characters. I've never quite understood what they meant. How can talking to your characters work? How does it work?

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    1. There are two main types of writers: pantsters and planners. Planners plan, they have an outline of how everything works out, they don't get stuck in this situation. Pantsters just write, letting their characters come alive in their head, deciding for them what happens in the story. I'm not a pantster, so I don't talk to my characters and perhaps I'm not the best person to answer this. When I get a sudden flash of inspiration of how to solve problems with my novels, it's from my inner voice, not my characters. ;)

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  2. My kids already complain that I talk to myself too much. If I started literally chatting with my characters out loud... :)
    But, yes, this has happened to me (not out loud). My character walked right into the trap, silly thing. Luckily, she knew how to get herself back out because I didn't.

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    1. Haha, yes it's best to keep the conversations silent. ;)

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  3. Since I plan my stories ahead, I have a good idea of how the chanters get out of their predicaments, that is unless things don't go according to plan. But yeah. I have frequent conversations with my characters all the time. It makes the people in my house nervous. :)

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  4. I've had those moments; now I have a new phrase to go with them: Talk to me, goose. Thanks, Nicole. :)

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  5. Ha! Yes, I wait for my characters to "talk" to me. Sometimes I envision them pacing in a waiting room while I figure out what they're supposed to do next. I'm pretty sure I've seen them roll their eyes a time or two when I've taken too long to come up with a solution. :)

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  6. Yes! Well, sort of. My character needed a moment like that toward the end of my first book. And when I first wrote it, I had no idea how he was going to get in or out of that situation.

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    1. Isn't that nervewracking as a writer? Glad you figured it out!

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  7. No "talk to me, Goose" moments yet, but I think that's because I typically have ending's planned sometimes before beginnings.

    By the way "talk to me, Goose" reminds me of TV show Psych because Shawn's mom calls him "Goose." :)

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  8. This can actually be a good problem to have. I mean, if you don't know what's coming next, it's probably a dead cert the reader's going to be left guessing too!

    But talking to readers is definitely a good idea. Eavesdropping in their head, too. What are they thinking?

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    1. So true. The readers will never guess.

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  9. Ah! Top Gun! Those were the days! :)
    And I hate when I work myself (or my characters) in a corner. At least one that I'm not sure how they're going to get out of. Great moments when they talk to you and clarity shines through in all its glory!

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  10. Sure, I talk to my characters. Scary when they talk back though.

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  11. Great post! I reckon if your characters talk back and you tell its story- then it will be worth reading!

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  12. I place my characters into situations and then ask them how they're going to get themselves out. In my latest MS, I tied up my MC a little too tight and it took almost two weeks to figure out how he was going to escape. But to my relief, he finally did. He's not talking to me as much lately. I think he's bitter. Haha.

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