Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Discovering Your Characters
So I've been reading a lot of your amazing blog posts, and have noticed a bit of a theme over the last week or so: getting into that main character's head. This was not a problem for me with my first novel. I was there. In it all the way.
But my WIP is a little different. My main character (MC) went through some pretty traumatic, life-altering events early in her life. And though I'm not writing those events into the book, I needed to go through them with her in order to get a good sense of how her past has shaped her. This is what I've been working on.
Then while surfing blogs yesterday, I read someone's comment that really got me thinking. He said that he writes journal entries for the MC before going into the scenes. I stored this away as one of those, "Wow - good idea - I don't want to forget that" things and continued on with my day. (This is why I can't tell you whose blog it was on or who made the comment. Bummer.)
Anyway, later that day I gave it a try. I wrote a journal entry for my MC starting right around the time her life took a sudden twist (when she was about eleven years old). I was amazed at how quickly I connected with her then. In just a short amount of time, I was able to experience this tragedy with her - her fears, her pain, and her hopes for a better tomorrow. These aren't things that will go into the book. Many of the events that take place in these journal entries will never be revealed to the reader at all, but that's okay. We still need to know it in order to know these people better. Why they act the way they do. Why they might be afraid to speak up. Or perhaps why they overreact all the time. You'll figure that out along the way.
I encourage any of you to try this exercise if you're not feeling connected with your MC. For me, it's already making a world of difference.
So what about you? What helps you discover your characters? Don't get stingy on us now; we want to hear.
Art work above by larafairie.j