OK all, we're two weeks into November, and so far...I'm doing alright with my NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50K in 30 days. There are many aspects of pre-planning your story (including outlining and brainstorming, which I discussed in one of my last posts) that have helped me get this far. But this post is about my character development.
While plot and setting are important, characters are what drive the story--they are the voice(s) behind the telling. So, naturally I want to understand them as best I can before I dive into writing the world from their perspectives.
- If I can think like them, that means readers should be able to as well.
- The last thing I want is for Reilly and Sam to be muddled in any way, so that's why I've dug a bit deeper into what they look like, what their hobbies and favorite places are, asked myself what their fears and passions might be, and what it is that drives their actions.
One aspect of story building that I usually enjoy is finding a physical representation to reference for my character inspiration. This is both fun and frustrating because it's not often easy to find that perfect muse or reference. But, when I do find it, it truly helps everything else fall into place.
People have asked me why, if I'm a good writer, do I need a picture for inspiration, especially if the character is so clear in my mind?
Great question, and for me, it's like this...
- I'm not a great writer. I'm a novice, and I can only achieve so much with my imagination and writing ability so early in my writing career. I'll take all the help I can get creating characters that don't really exists. Would a poet be able to write poetry without having lived through what they write, at least in some small way? My characters are IN MY MIND, so it's easy to overlook certain traits and behaviors about them that my mind glazes over. A physical reminder helps me keep the descriptions and actions dynamic.
- I'm no expert. I don't know what it feels like to lose my father, and I wouldn't be able to write about my character's reaction without doing the research or talking to those who have lived through something so traumatic. Physical research and appreciation isn't any different. All aspects of a character deserve due diligence if they're going to be authentic.
- No such thing as a brand new character. No characters--looks or character traits--are completely made up. There's generally a living person who brings their image to life, a television character or college roommate, a teacher or the girl next door that contributes to the person in your head. Writers use what they know, and I'm a visual person.
Generally, I'm an indecisive, easily distracted, and unorganized person. So, there are steps I'm learning to take and tools I'm exploring to help me stay focused, visualize the scenes, and get to know my characters with a bit more ease.
While most people use Pinterest to pin recipes and craft ideas, I use it to organize and visualize my story ideas through pictures I can reference while writing.
|Some of my Pinterst Boards - Story ideas and inspiration|
I can also collage the photos I've collected on my Pinterest boards to compile visual tools like these...
Story Boards and Introductions:
|Sam's Story Board|
On any given day, Sam enjoys the outdoors and camping with her friends. When she's not mucking out stalls, riding her old gray mare, Shasta, or taking care of the only family she has left, Sam does all she can to keep busy...she'll do whatever it takes, as long as she's not alone with her thoughts for too long. Loneliness welcomes thoughts, and thoughts conjure guilt and sadness, two emotions that have helped mold her into the dark shadow of herself she's become.
|Reilly's Story Board|
Meet Josh Reilly, a heart breaker to some, best friend to others, and an arrogant bastard to the one woman he wishes would just give him a damn chance. This military man is no stranger to hard word, taking chances, and living life to the fullest whenever possible. Despite what some may argue, Reilly prides himself on his loyalty--even when it gets him into trouble and nearly ruins his life. But life decisions, good and bad, have taught him that he has to work for what he wants, no matter how daunting the task, if he ever wants to find true happiness.
For fun, Reilly likes to play baseball with the guys, live a little dangerously, and work with his hands (wink). A perfect date would be drinking a beer by the bonfire down at the lake, listening to old rock'n roll, and sharing embarrassing childhood stories.
~Coming soon: Outlining a Series~
If you'd like to follow my writing process, you can find me here: