Karalee’s Post #3 – I try not to giggle whenever I think about someone eavesdropping in on one of our group’s critique sessions. Without a doubt the listener would think we were delusional. We talk about our characters as though they are thinking, emotional human beings (or aliens) with strong motivations and flaws that make them do what they do in the heat of conflict.
And in our minds our characters are doing all of that and more. Are we delusional? Should the eavesdropper commit us to the local psych ward?
Oh, and we drink coffee and eat sandwiches as we muse about our protagonists finding dead bodies or shooting the bad guys. And we get excited brainstorming about how our villains can commit the murder, steal the treasure, break up families or business relationships, or bring down the world.
Then there’s our protagonist’s sidekick: an opposite either to help or hinder, but always there on the quest wherever it takes them. Of course a bit of romance never hurt a plot whether it’s the protagonist’s love interest or a murder/kidnapping committed because love was thwarted or betrayed.
We all have different plots and characters and it amuses me how we talk as though all our fictional people have real feelings and bleed real blood. But all told, our characters have a common denominator (in keeping with Silk’s arithmetic usage) and that is, they all MUST ring true and unique.
So how do I create my characters?
First I have an idea of where my plotline is going from start to finish. I tend to write the first scene and last scene early on in my writing so I have a place ‘to go to’ in my story. The idea is solid, but I’m not committed to these scenes word-for-word as I know changes will come as my characters tell it like it really is. They take control worse than my mother and keep me up too late and wake me up early as they run with their story. To tell the truth, I’m neither a late-night-person or a break-of-dawn riser, so what my characters have to say MUST be compelling to change my normal rhythm.
Next I start outlining and I wonder what kind of characters would do what needs to be done. That leads to deciding on their ethnic backgrounds and ages, and I start building them from their parents and childhoods up to the present including their experiences that make them who they are and react the way they do. Relatives and friends that have influenced them can explode into pages of details and I could spend weeks on creating their lives, so I do a skeleton of these connections (actually more like bones with some flesh) and add more details as I write the story and learn more about them.
Like I’ve said before, my characters talk to me. My job is to listen and write and be the CEO of my project. It’s the best job don’t you think?
So, if you happen to be eavesdropping at one of our critique sessions or come into my office while I’m having a heated conversation with myself or making faces in a mirror to show the emotions I’m trying to write down, don’t dial 911.
None of us are delusional.