I'm going to try to pick apart a problem I'm currently working on, because I caught myself starting to drone on about it in a private e-mail, which is unkind to those I am corresponding with.
Problem: when you need a character to do or say something. You can't just make them act or put words in their mouth, because that can mess up the book. They have to really do or say it, all on their own.
In my case, what I need from my MC is more of an internal change, and it's interwoven with other problems that need solving, but all I'm going to look at right now is me trying to get the character to fall in line with what the story needs.
Some of the things I've tried:
- Write through, step-by-step, the MC's considerations as he reasons his way toward doing/saying what I need him to do/say.
- Go through the scenes from other characters' POVs to see if fleshing out the scene helps.
- Let the characters talk about the situation in scene to see if one of them influences the MC.
- Rethink who's present.
- Rethink when they're present (i.e. coming in, leaving).
- Rethink what everyone's doing in the scene.
- Break down the MC's considerations into smaller scenes; in other words, take him through the steps required to bring him to doing/saying what I need him to.
Anyway, after I get all this worked out, I'll forget the process I went through--I may even think the story came out right the first time--so I wanted to get it down while I'm in the messy middle of it.