Welcome to the Dragon's Pen, the blog of an aspiring kiwi author ... chatting about reading, writing, querying and publishing

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chaneling your Character

I few days a go I talked about the different ways the Muse can be inspired. Today I thought I'd talk a little about channeling our characters.

This means getting into the your character's head and making her real on the page.

Whatever situation your character finds herself in you have to know and understand how she feels. Emotion is a huge part of our humanity. Our characters need to be convincingly human (unless of course you're writing SF and your MC is non-humanoid).

In the books we read it's the things a character experiences and their reactions, both emotional and physical, that will determine our own emotional connection to the characters of a story.

Of course, I want readers to care about my main character. It's my job to channel her so that she'll become real to the reader enabling that crucial bond to form between the reader and my MC.

In order to do this I need to know what she feels and why, right down to all minute the complexities of emotion.

Perhaps she has lost someone close to her quite suddenly, how might she be feeling? A whole range of emotions present themselves for consideration. Desolation, despair, panic, depression, anger, helplessness ... and possibly all of these at once.

Once I understand my character's emotion state I should be able to write a credible response or reaction to what is happening and one that the reader will empathise with.

I thought I'd share with you the image that is inspiring me at present. This is it. Isn't she lovely?

In this picture it's the wistful look in her eyes that speaks to me, as if she's thinking back to a better time. The time before chaos.

Sometimes I see pain and heartache in her expression. Other times it seems to me there's a coldness, a detachment and a grim determination in her face.

Each of these impressions can help me to enter into my character's emotional state. I see it in her face, I empathize and I experience those emotions though her, and with her, as she shares her story and I record it. Of course, I don't always write like this, but starting this way can be very helpful.

I often have a picture, like this one, as my screen saver. So the instant my computer comes on line my inspiration is staring back at me. This helps keep the story in my head (in technicolour!) and acts as a siren song, calling be back to work.

Much of the time the characters and the scenes I set out to write are so clear any extra visual aids are unnecessary. But writing isn't always easy. Sometimes it's just gut wrenching, hair pulling, frustrating, thankless work. When it's hard it's handy to have little tricks up my sleeve to get me going again; this is one of them.

How do you get yourself kick started when your writing grounds to a holt?
What method do you use to get into your character's head or really ground yourself in a scene?

1 comment:

  1. I love the image and how it inspires your writing, particularly having it as a screensaver. That is a great idea so I'm considering doing the same.

    When I write or get into my characters' heads I just write whatever spills forth - their emotions, actions, reactions to a situation etc, sometimes it drips out, other times it gushes. I don't usually use any aides to help me. It all depends. It's not something I can explain clearly, it just comes. I have to think about this a little more. :)