November 08, 2012

Writing Characters

An idea came to mind recently about a character who would be engaged in dialogue with the author (me) as part of the story.

I felt I needed to know a lot about the character as I would not only be directing him but he would also be complaining to me if I 'wrote' him in the wrong direction. The idea being that I would be writing his story as though it were my story about him but that he would be living his life under my pen with his own opinions and ideas and control over his life entirely separate from me and my pen. Most of the story will run smoothly and in agreement with each other but I would be able to offer bits of advice or steer him into or away from situations. By the same token he would be able to interrupt me and ask what I think I'm doing with him or to suggest situations or chide me about situations that don't suit his personality.

At the moment I have no real idea what his story is but in building up a picture of the character I am starting to see a story develop around him as his mannerisms, hopes and dreams, habits, and history build up. Looking at his relationships with others is allowing other characters to build around him. Perhaps this is something I might find useful in other stories where I am feeling stuck.

Exploring ideas about his personality and relationships is giving me ideas about his life and what he does. I even got Stephen to give me something about him so that he is not totally my own construct. After all, people come into my life and I have no control over who they are, where they have come from and what they are like. I would like some of my characters to be beyond my control -  as far as they can be anyway. The unknown can be as exciting to the author as it is to the reader.

Writing about someone I don't know and keeping them in mind so that their speech and mannerisms gives away something of who they are isn't always easy. Showing a reader who someone is with their internal and external conflicts is done through dialogue and description and it is often the little things that give someone away and make the reader believe in that person.

I have to believe in them as well otherwise it won't work.

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