Dec 13, 2010

Pictures of You

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you that I almost belive that they're real ...

On getting closer to our characters.

Creating three-dimensional characters from the main to the strong supporting cast to the villains, requires more work than will ever appear on the printed page.

I usually save this work for the revisioning stage as my characters don't always become fully known to me until after the first draft. Sure I have ideas about them from the start. Often they have ideas I never would have thought of until the story is well under way. Sometimes they just don't care what I think and scream, "THAT IS SOOO NOT ME!"

There are many devices and techniques for getting into a character's head and shoes.

1.  Write out what your character's life was before met in the story and what the character's life will be after the story. Everyone has a back story. Everyone has goals. We especially need to understand how our main character will be different once the story ends.

2.  Create a lexicon for each character of significance. In real life, we all have jobs which come with their own vocabulary. Mine differs from my husband's. How does your main character's differ from his / her friends' or enemies'?

3.  Interview your characters before dramatic incidents. With legal pad and pen in hand have a tete a tete with the pivotal characters before writing the scene. Pretend you're Barbara Walters. Helps us get into their heads.

4.  Plan out and decorate your characters' personal spaces. Don't be arbitrary. The decor should illustrate their character and traits.

5.  Plan their wardrobes. Same as above.

6.  What is your character's ideal world? How can you make them fight for it? What obstacles will really tick them off along the way? Helps us create the tension and turning points.

What other techniques can you think of for getting to know our characters better? Bonus if you know where the quote came from at the beginning of the post. What do you get? Ummm ... special recognition. Uh, yeah. :D