Monday, February 6, 2012

Characters

Okay, relax.  Remove both hands from the keyboard, or mouse and let them rest comfortably beside you, or in your lap.  Now, just read.  Now think about one of your characters.  You may have done a detailed character sketch, but how well do you really know that person.  Some may say: as well as I know the back of my hand.  Okay here’s the point of this.  Still without looking, do you really remember all the subtle lines and marks on any one of your hands?  How many scars?  How many spots?

How well did you do?  I didn’t do too well.

Sometimes, even in the middle of our story, it wouldn’t hurt to look back at our characters.  We might find something we forgot.  Or we may need to update the character sheets if we have found something new about them.

Just a thought.

8 comments:

  1. Rick, it's funny that you mention this because in my editorial letter for Touch of Death, my editor told me to do the same thing. Of course, my character's hands are extremely important to the story, so this may apply to me in a little different way, but still. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. Sometimes I find it good to go back and review and update my character outline. The other day I noticed a new scratch on the back of my hand, and wondered how it got there. It got me thinking. I hadn't noticed it before. How often do I think I know something, "like the back of my hand"?

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  2. Rick, great post again! I'm brainstorming a new novel right now, and making a detailed character sketch just got put on my "to do" list :)

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    1. Great, Katie. I like making the character sketches and outlines of the story. It's great to have a starting point, though I never know where the characters may take me on the journey I have plotted for them. It really helps to know as much as possible about them though. Like real people, sometimes they throw you something out of left field.

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  3. I'm working on Characters for this week (and the next), too. There is much work to do before we really get to know our characters more intimately. They might not open themselves to us at the first sit-down. And you're right: sometimes they change.

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    1. You're right, Claudine. Sometimes they can be shy towards us for a while. It's like making new friends. We learn a little about them with each encounter.

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  4. I agree with you Rick, and Claudine. I am often surprised as characters introduce themselves to us as we write. This happened just this week as I wrote a short story Wednesday morning, and the two characters appeared through the story. What's the right approach--create the character, or let the plot create the character? I suppose it might matter which is predominant to the piece...whether the character (chicken?) or the plot (egg?) comes first...

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  5. Yeah, I guess it depends on the piece. Plot driven, or character driven. Of course it could be like a nice dish where you get both. The chicken and the egg. Chicken with Hollandaise Sauce.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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