May 31, 2009


Was DEATHLY ill with a cold Friday and Saturday, no writing energy at all. So I'm doing a "reprise":

The toughest thing I've ever had to deal with in writing is making my characters seem to live.

NO -- I don't have trouble making lists, writing their life story, doing interviews with them, doing time lines or any of the other things the writing books talk about all the time.I have trouble writing down things that make my characters live on the page. I have trouble putting my character down. On paper. So that others experience them the way I do.

My most recent solution to the problem is to do the following:

1) I write down basic visual details, choosing one thing that makes them unique.

2) I put them in a situation where their uniqueness STICKS OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB.

3) I write out the character's response to a couple of pressures that have nothing to do with my story.

4) Write a scene I've witnessed and then replace someone I knew with that character and see how THEY react.

5) I dissect the characters in other books I love.

6) I have the character state somehow what they want and come up with a stupid plan to get it.

7) I also make them talk about their "owies" (external, internal, spiritual).

8) I write scenes using SPECIFIC details in all the senses.

9) I make sure the character has realistic FLAWS tied intimately to realistic STRENGTHS.

10) I add quirky flaws, a sense of humor, an exaggerated positive trait and self-doubt.

11) I sit down and think, "What the heck am I trying to do with the character?"

12) I quit worrying and write. Like a shark. (A majority of sharks must have oxygenated water moving over their gills. If they don't, they suffocate. They DIE!)There you go. Prescriptive writing (see my post "UGH: Prescriptive Writing"). My prescription to me.

If you like it, steal it. Oh, only one thing: tell me if it works for you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've used it many times. It totally works.

--Leon H.