Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brainstorming and Knowing your Characters - Writing Tips From A beginner

Yahoo! Avatars
My yahoo avatar - I like to think if I had liposuction, a gastric band and never ate again for the rest of my life I could actually look more like this. But I do think its representative of my interests and the things that surround me... And I haven't dressed a 'dolly' in two decades....

I've spent the last few days introducing some friends to msn messenger and the fantastic time wasting qualities it holds when mid-book...

But one of the best things I've discovered with it, is despite time differences and distance, when imaginative minds chat online the brainstorming levels grow to insane proportions! As writers we do tend to have a 'live in a cave' quality to our lives. Certainly when we're writing and close to deadline. And yet we need the mental boost that active conversation and outside stimuli can give us in order to come up with new stories.For me messengers are therefore a great great invention. Sometimes you just need someone else to say 'hows it going' or 'why are you stuck' and in turn someone to ask 'do you think thats what they would do?' or 'does this sound plausable'. Which brings me to one subject I've learned this last few months through brainstorming and learning about my craft...

You gotta know your characters.

It sounds so damn simple when I put it that way doesn't it and it should be simple, right? But I don't just mean what they look like, what they do for a living, who their friends are and where they live. I'm not even talking about what has happened in their lives to bring them to a certain point in time. What I'm talking about is really knowing them. Being inside their head. Its no use having them battered and mistrusting from past hurt if you then have them trust the next person they meet. Cos people just don't do that. They are shaped by events and circumstance. And I think it's all too easy to forget that when you're writing unless you really *are* your characters. When people ask the popular question of; 'do you put much of yourself in your books' I guess that by that token, yes I do. Snippets of myself are in each and every one. But they aren't me, because the experiences I give them aren't my own. But I am 'them' for as long as I'm in charge of what they say and do. I don't think any writer can avoid it completely. But in turn it may also mean that for a while I'm them. Because I have to think of what they'd do, how they'd react, what they might think and how they'd interpret something all based on the past experiences I have given them. So maybe when I find myself writing in the middle of the night and I laugh out loud at something they say or cry when they have an emotional breakthrough it doesn't actually mean I'm insane (be quiet in the cheap seats!) It just means I'm on the right track and I'm inside them enough to show their journey the way it should be shown...

So, if you're struggling with character development feel free to join me in the slight case of schizophrenia it would appear I have while writing...

3 comments:

Donna Alward said...

Can I just c&p this post for my blog???? LOL Because I was just thinking this yesterday after we finished talking.

No one demands me to get inside my character's heads like you do. Nothing sparks me with new ideas better that our chats....

I agree with you one hundred percent. Including the insane part. :-)

Trish said...

you c&p away there babes

allyblake said...

Ooh, I have to get me one of them Avatars Trish.

Talk about time wasting - MSN is fine, doing all those bloody quizzes of yours is taking a year off my life!

Ally