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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Open their Heads

Now we’re going to get inside our character’s heads.

It’s a dark and scary place. Be not afraid. You are not alone.

There are many ways to do this. Wine or Whisky is probably involved. But we won’t get into that...ahem....we’ll simply discuss two different ways of getting our characters to let us know who they are.

The most basic way to do this is, of course, an actual character interview. I was given a great one of these by mshatch. But couldn’t get it to link. However. A quick google search yielded up several other options. This Character Interview seemed to be pretty decent.

Now. Keep in mind. Not all of this information needs to be revealed in your story. Remember what we talked about, and worked on yesterday? And maybe your character doesn’t want the world to know that his deepest desire is to have 17 puppies and live on a small island in Puerto Rico, rather than fighting dragons off the white cliffs of Dover. His battle buddies would give him a world of shit.

These should be looked at as counseling sessions. Just between you and your character. Yes. Some of it will make it into your story. Some of it is very relevant. In fact, in reality. For you, the writer, it’s all very relevant. You need to know this character as well as you know yourself. How else are you going to write their reactions believable? If you don’t crawl inside their heads and reside there, your readers are never going to believe that that character is real. Which in turn makes the whole story and plot unreal.

The other way is more an exercise in word play and getting to know your characters. All in one! A while back I stumbled on a ‘thing’ people were doing in the poetry field called Six Word Bios. Interesting. Not easy. Every word counts when you only have six. The only problem I personally have is that I end up with a lot of adverbs and adjectives. For example. My personal six word bio:

Culinary: Indescribably painful yet beautifully fulfilling.

It does say what I want it to say. But is there a better, less adverb-y way? Probably. For me, though, the point of this exercise was to get down to the bare bones what I needed to say. What did I want to say about my self? How do I get across to my reader the experiences I had in my brief career, how do I condense it down?

This is why you really need to know your characters. Are you able to get this up close and personal with them? Do you know enough about them? This was just one aspect of my life. I could have chosen others to write about.

If nothing else, this exercise teaches you how to rethink what you may consider to be an important word. It helps you to really consider what it is you’re trying to say.

Feel free to post any Six Word Bios, for yourself or your characters, you may come up with! I would love to see them! As you can see...the adverb thing is a challenge for me, and I would love to see if you can overcome it!


Donna Hole said...

writer: creatively seeking alternate reality.

Ach; only 5 words. I'm not good at this stuff :( I failed at the 6 word story too, lol.

I do like the idea of interviewing my characters. I've had to write entire scenes I know will never be in the novel just to capture a few words in a sentiment or get a memory generated.

No, not easy, but worth the time and effort.


Francene Stanley said...

Reverse time before the world ends.

(This is my character Tallulah after a comet hits.)

Charity Bradford said...

Hey Alicia! Just wanted to say I've enjoyed all your posts this week. Sorry I haven't had a chance to participate with all the running around I've been doing.

I think getting inside your character's head is one of THE most important things to do. Even if it doesn't make it to the page, like you said, you as the writer must know what it's like inside them.

Here's a few off the cuff 6 word bios.
Talia--Lonely scientist seeks to survive invasion.
Landry--Military hero loyal to the crown.
Jaron--Alien seeking revenge for wife's death.
Shishali--Megalomaniacal deliverer of pain for fun.

Eh, not great, but pretty accurate for my characters.

Alicia C. said...

But those 5 words say enough. Well done!

Alicia C. said...

Oooo! No adverbs..I'm very envious...

Alicia C. said...

Hey Charity! That's ok. My schedule today was NUTZ-O! So I'm just getting online right now and it's 11:30pm! whoa...

Those are great...now I REALLY can't wait to read your book...!! :)

Liza said...

I've done some deep probing into my characters, but this character interview goes even further. I think I'm going to have a go with it. Thanks.

Huntress said...

Ditto Charity's first paragraph. Scraping and plastering and painting and nailing and running to town for more supplies so I can plaster and paint and nail some more.

mshatch said...

I love character interviews and found them extremely helpful. Let's see if I can do one for my current mc, Kass:

recovering amnesiac, searching for, what happened?