Have you ever had any dead characters hanging around your house, stinking up the place? I don’t mean characters who were poisoned, shot, or otherwise suffered a tragic but necessary demise for the sake of the plot. I’m talking about characters who never came to life.

My current WIP has come to a grinding halt at Chapter 6. I find myself avoiding the project, and luckily I have revisions on other manuscripts to keep me busy. Still, it’s sad to see a new story belly flop like this. The problem seems to be that my characters just aren’t real enough.

I usually have the opposite problem: my characters are too real. They sit at my dinner table. They bother me at work. I converse with them when I think I’m alone (often getting caught in the act by family members). I’ll take any excuse I can find to talk about them – even when nobody wants to hear about them. They develop their own personalities and take the story in directions I wasn’t expecting. Minor characters go down on the page with full-blown personalities that complement the role they’re going to play – even when I don’t yet know what that role will be!

So, what’s wrong with these characters? And how do I fix them? Do I even want to fix them?

I could ignore them for now and work on my revisions. Or, I could go back to the drawing board, ditch my plot outline, play around with the characters a little more and try to breathe some life into them.

Or, I could scrap the whole idea and explore something else from my idea file.

What do you do when the story doesn’t gel and the characters act like a bunch of stiffs from the morgue? How long do you fool around with a WIP before you say, RIP?

Meanwhile, I am seeking beta readers for the third draft of The Caged Graves. Does anybody have an interest and/or the time to give it a read?