Monday, March 12, 2012

GET TO KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS


Now it’s time to get to know these characters. One excellent way is to have your pivotal character write you a short letter telling you about what’s going on in his or her life. Something that perhaps happened to them and how they feel about it, they might even mention having met the second character.
When you finish that letter, the second character is going to write you one. You’d be surprised how quickly you get to know them in this way. I like to get moving right away and get to know my character as I write the first three or four chapters. They begin to take on a life of their own and start telling me what will happen next. Then I know they are real.
By doing this you are putting your character in first person mode. If you like write an entire scene in your book with one of your two protagonists in first person pov. Go deep into that point of view until you actually become them telling the story. It’s easy then, if you like the scene, to go back and change it to third person.
There are a lot of ways to keep track of their physical attributes. You can make up a character chart. I have to admit, I don’t like charts, but if you do, make up your own or find one you like. There are plenty of books and articles on writing in which you can find these. Have a second file in your computer that you keep open with all the details as you settle on them.
Or do what I do. Keep hand written notes on each one as I write so that when one tells me something, I jot it down. When I decide on eye and hair color, jot that down. Age, date of birth, anything that occurs to you. I end up with a fair stack of notes before I’m finished, but it works for me. As I leaf through them I’ll see not only what I’m looking for but be reminded about a character’s attributes that I might have forgotten.
Maybe you learn your heroine likes to eat ice cream at midnight. Jot that down, it will be useful to know and probably use. Likes and dislikes of all major characters will become very important.
Any character you create must fit physically and mentally into the story you intend to tell. They must grow over time, change over time, perhaps even decide they didn’t want what they thought they did, but something else. Goal, motivation, conflict all must be considered for each character who plays a large part in your book. Especially important are the protagonist(s) and the antagonist (villain) in this concept.
How do we go into deep point of view?
Example:  The slightest movement inflamed the agony of his wounds. Leather fringes of his leggings clung fast to the frozen, bloodied ground. Filled with sadness and a growing rage, he welcomed the lances of pain that alerted his senses. Pushing to both feet, jerking free of the chains of ice and shaking away the snow, he squatted there a moment to breathe raggedly of the carnage-tainted air. And cursed his father’s white blood with each beat of his heart. From Stone Heart’s Woman.
Here it is not in deep point of view. Everytime he moved he felt an agonizing fire and pain lanced through him. He couldn’t free his leggings, and looked to see they were frozen to the  bloodied ground. Sadness caused a growing rage against his father’s white blood that he could feel surging through his veins. As he squatted there, he smelled death in the air.

1 comment:

Patricia Gligor said...

Velda,
I enjoyed your post. For my Malone mystery series, I created what I call my Character and Chronology outline. I have it printed out and within reach at all times when I'm writing and I add to it as necessary. It's made keeping track of all the little details so much easier.