Viewing blog entries in category: Character Developement
One of the things I see a lot on writing forums are beginning writers asking about characters. It seems that creating characters is challenging to those who are just starting. In reality, they’re not. The problem most people have is they don’t realize that writing comes from the heart. What do I mean by that? Well, here’s a brief explanation.
I created a character named Kate over twenty years ago while I was in middle school and carried her with me until late this past fall. She was a brutal character who could be very violent, and always carried a lot of angst with her. I have Bipolar and when I was coming through the school system, there wasn’t the support programs there are now. In fact, my illness got listed as LD/ED, and it never addressed the issues that lead to being unstable and not able to fit in with the crowd.
That led to a lot of mental abuse from the people around me over the years and that ended up going into Kate. She became the anger, sadness and frustration that I felt over the past. So, all the brutal rage that builds up when one suffers abuse became the reason for her creation.
One day, a kind lady named Maia challenged me. She asked me whether I wanted to be a serious writer, and I decided that the answer was “Yes.” When that happened, a thought arose to create a new character and, PERHAPS, kill Kate off. As I worked on creating the new character, three more came along to create and ensemble cast (which is a post for another day). Things started to change, and a whole new world for the characters morphed off the one I’d already built for Kate.
As I said earlier, the previous character Kate was based off my pain and hurt. The new character, Talia, and her sisters came from the ‘new’ me. Having spent almost three years having regular counseling after my last bipolar breakdown, I came to learn, and accept, who I was. This opened up another side that never had shown itself while writing. Thus, the characters changed.
Hemmingway is famous for saying:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
His quote is very true, and I challenge everyone to look deep inside yourself when you’re starting your characterization process and see if there’s any connection, or chemistry, between you the writer and the creation. If that doesn’t exist than the writing won’t feel ‘real,’ and it’ll leave a person wondering what they’ve done wrong.
Writing comes from the heart.
Several blog posts on writing from the heart and how it relates to character building and style of writing. Also, I'll be putting up some information about social networking and what I'm learning is effective and what isn't.
I'll link things up when it's ready.
Sometimes when you're editing something just doesn't sit right, and it just sticks in your craw and eats at you. Last night, I had one of those moments while trying to get to sleep. It was nearly 4am EDT before I manged to fall asleep, and my thoughts kept going back to Kate, my MC, and both this book and the new one I'm halfway starting. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out what kept my minding moving so much until it dawned on me.
The opening to the first novel's second chapter performed better then the first, because the first, while having it's good moments, info dumped, which is a hard thing to avoid when doing any kind of science fiction because of the worlds we work with. So, in an experiment, I spend all day today combining the best of the first, with the best of the second, and creating an opening scene where what happens to my MC to require a cybernetic body is seen by the reader instead of referred to in passing. While before, there'd been a chapter (chapter 1) to the changing of bodies, it really didn't cover WHAT happened much.
Why? Because it helped to pull some of the drama onto Kate instead of her being a secondary character during the first chapter when it should be about her. I think this chapter will be better. Although I do like a bit of dialogue between Lisa Thomson, who'll be one of the three MC's that'll revolve around this world.
Now I'll make some slight adjustments to the third chapter to bring it back in line with the rest of the novel, and it'll be settled. Sometimes it pays to listen to your gut.
Reyes looked over at the bed, and placed his hands on his hips. “Almir better not commit suicide, Doctors!”
Matthews looked at Reyes. “She won’t,”
Lisa looked at the two men, and her eyes blazed like burning coals. “Listen to you two? ‘She won’t?’ Do you know how stupid that sounds? The girl’s in pain and afraid, and since neither of you will man up, then I’ll do the job for you. Get back with me when you guys grow a pair.”
Sometimes in a character's life or development, things need to happen that are mean and/or cruel to allow them to experience a real life. We all have suffered through mean and cruel things in our lives, which have developed us into the people we are, and the same for them. I know it sounds weird, but Kate tells me her entire life as I write her story, and it's interesting to listen to. The amount of mean things that have happened to her is simply amazing, but the character is so vivid from that.
Stephen King likes to say "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings even when it breaks your egocentric writers heart." He meant for cutting and editing your novels, but I tend to use that philosophy in a different light. To me, and it's just an opinion and we all know what they say about that, I take it as poetic license to throw rough, and mean items into a character's life.
I have one scene, near the beginning of a pursuit time, when Kate slips and rolls down a muddy bank and lands face down in the nasty mud at the bottom. Full of vegetation and animal carcasses, and foul smelling, the scene just pushes her into another corner to climb out of. Throw in a brand new 300 credit (dollars) outfit, which got ruined, and you can see how things worked.
Don't be afraid to think of, or discover a major twist, or painful event, for their lives, but keep it to yourself while writing it. Once it's all said and done, and everything's on paper, then you can or can't tell if you choose. I tend to keep to the Stephen Moffatt school of writing.
As the lead writer and executive producer of Dr Who, he's admitted that he lies when it comes to things he's writing about in story arcs and episodes. Jenna Louise Coleman's surprise appearance on the first episode comes to mind. Which also is fun to see how he slips out of the supposedly "painted corner."
So don't be afraid of hurting a character. And I only have one rule myself, and it may not work for everyone but here it is:
1. I always lie.
No straight answers on twists and turns coming down the road to anyone, or I'll send them down the rabbit hole. And do it all cheerfully all the way.
For anyone who's a Dr. Who fan, keep this in mind too:
1. Moffatt always lies.