I thought back to conversations I've had with my husband. We often will refer to Maslow's Four Stages of Learning in the processes we or our children are experiencing. The realization about my characters reminded me of it.
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It also reminded me that the transition that is the hardest is the one from conscious incompetence to conscious competence. I think it is the hardest because once you know that thing, going back you can't help but wonder how you didn't know it before. It's so obvious if we would have just known what to look for.
I knew my story wasn't working - not the way I wanted it to. But I didn't know why. I created ideas, theories, all of these things while ignoring the prospective readers and what they want to read about.
And so I'm starting over. But this time, I'm keeping the new knowledge in the front of my mind. I broke out the color coded post-it notes, cleared space on my dining room table, threatened my children not to move or even touch the notes, and character arcs are reforming.
It is a slow process. It will be a slow process. Until I have the character solidified in my mind, until I can think about them as real people, it will be slow. But it will be progression, and that is the most important part.
Have you had something you didn't know you didn't know? Had to start over? What techniques helped you transition to unconscious competence?