developing characters ... :)
Imagine for a moment that you're writing a series of thrillers with the same protagonist and mostly the same team along side the protagonist.
Okay, got it?
You've finished 7 books in the series (all under contract to the same publisher) and are now working on the 8th. You know the characters very well but they still surprise you, they're evolving, growing, changing ... as people do.
Really what you've created is a tight group of friends, your friends. No one else can ever really know them because they came from you. Readers see the external vision of these characters. The writer sees the inner workings.
Every now and then you need to talk to experts in various fields to get a better idea of a new character and how they think, operate, go about their daily lives ... yes?
Sometimes a new character stems from something/someone surprising and you're lucky enough to have a go to person close by. Which is great if you're not quite sure how that character is going to react in a difficult situation or how they'll react to another character in a particular situation.
Go to the source.
Have the conversation. Have lots of conversations. Ask questions.
Get into the characters head.
Throw the what if's in there and watch what happens.
Well, that's how I do it, when I can.
I also spend a lot of time watching people and interacting with people ... people. All ages and in all manner of situations.
One of my characters is/was a teenage girl.
Less so than maybe it could've been ... I do know teenage girls. I used to be one. I've raised a few and they have friends. I like teenagers even enjoy them but they also annoy the shite out of me at times. Why? Because their cute little brains are not fully formed yet, they don't think like grown ups, they cannot think like grown ups. As tempting as it is at times to growl "Grow the fuck up, what did you think was going to happen when you did x?"
It's futile ... they're teenage girls.
Superman classes 14 year old girls as a breed unto themselves. It can be a particularly difficult year, not old enough to do much but too old to hang out with younger kids. Tricky and also all over the place hormone wise. It's quite the combination or disaster waiting to happen - depending on the child and parents.
So I had this young character. She annoyed me. But that's okay. She wasn't a main character and therefore I got to see her behavior from an adult point of view - her mothers point of view. So there was a natural adult spin on everything she did and a good deal of exasperation because of that, as her moods bounced around the pages like a crazed rubber ball.
The thing here is that the character was viewed through adult eyes at all times which made it somewhat easier to write her. The adult can see beyond the behavior and anticipate the outcome. A 14 yr old cannot.
Same with my rock star (not that he was viewed through adult eyes ... although ...), he was viewed through Ellie's eyes, so she added her spin to what she saw and what we saw.
And again, my actor, he is viewed through Ellie's eyes - her spin modified his actions as she interpreted what he did and then we saw what she saw. We don't know what happens in his head. We only know the external clues that Ellie picks up on and what he says in conversation, they give us a glimpse into the possible workings of his mind.
And so forth ... all the characters in the Byte Series work this way because it's first person and Ellie's point of view. UNLESS something drastic happens to Ellie and someone else has to pick up the story. That does happen sometimes. It happened in killerbyte and it happens in eraserbyte -where a good deal of the story is through Mitch's eyes.
Up shot here is ... characters are tricky just like people. Being true to your character is not always easy.
But if you're going to write from a completely foreign point of view to your own, you'd better do it well and really get inside that characters head because we'll know.
This blog post is going in a slightly different direction - bear with ... (no I'm not 14 ... although sometimes?)
Yesterday at A Writers Plot, we started a really interesting and fun exercise. Don't think I've ever heard so much laughter from our table. What we were doing was telling a story as a group. Each person chose a character, they made the character up on the spot and then became that character.
(We had a few people away yesterday, they're going to have to scramble to catch up here.)
What we had was 9 very different characters all interacting around the table. Through the interaction and brief back stories we formed a picture of the small town and the people in it. Hopefully, as this goes on, we'll solve the murder that took place. :)
The things with this is ... don't rein anyone in, let it spin and see where it all ends up. It will (and did) get truly insane but as the characters settled we began to see what lay underneath and the intricacies of life in a small town that is almost a closed community.
Now, for the real fun, bringing in an outsider to investigate the murder.
It was a brainstorming session on steroids.
All we had to work with was a very short overview of the opening scene. What I have now is a brief outline of every character and some ideas on what might have happened to Mr. Black and some very Days of Our Lives insights into the relationships within the town! I'll write it all up soon and post it on our FB group as a document that we can all work on.
Because the plan here is to carry this on, each writing our own dialogue as the story unfolds. We're playing off one another, carrying conversations, giving away clues - or not, throwing theories into the middle, and everyone has to decide for themselves how much information they share with Agent Sam Jackson and no one knows what really happened to Mr. Black (at this point).
Sound like fun?
Because it really is.
This is character creation, story telling, and collaboration all rolled into one.
That wasn't a bad post for a Sunday.
Character creation doesn't have to be hard ... but the characters do need to be believable (which means 14 yr old girls should act like 14 year old girls ...).