Multiple personalities

I’m working on a book with two main characters. They are very different people, although their stories overlap in various significant ways. I’m writing the book from both of their perspectives, flipping back and forth between their two points of view.

When I sit down to write, I first need to get into the headspace of whichever character is telling that part of the story. I think about her backstory, her goals, her insecurities and her relationships, then I attempt to weave all these elements into the action of the scene. This process demands a great deal of focus, but when I’m successfully inhabiting a character, I can immerse myself in her world. Sometimes I can even achieve a flow state, where I lose track of time and the words unspool effortlessly, as if I were listening in and then transcribing the scene, paragraph by paragraph.

Sounds lovely, right?

But of course, switching back and forth means that every time I finish a section, I have to step out of one character’s mind and into the other’s. I have to reorient myself into a totally different point of view, with all the accompanying changes in personality and experience.

The faster I write, the more often I have to switch characters. I want to keep up my momentum, but it can be jarring and exhausting to flip back and forth, like changing between first gear and reverse when driving a stick-shift. It’s like I get character jet-lag, and it can be hard to shake one of them when it’s time to switch to the other.

Let’s hope this process gets easier as I move through this draft!


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