I laugh in the face of writer’s block. Why? Because I’ve got back up. I tuck away ammo for days when the doldrums sneak in and try to steal my creativity. As a novelist, I consider it a great treasure hunt, a psychological expedition trying to get to know my characters better.
Today I’m providing a fresh way to understand more about the main characters you’re creating.
Oh the places we’ll go…
The swirling lights, towering sticks of cotton candy, and overpriced games…a festival is a great venue to watch and learn.
Does she lurk on the edges or do you see her in the center of every crowd? Is she quick to race to the Ferris wheel or does she avoid heights at all costs? Did she once get so sick on a drumstick she’ll never try her luck again? What did she show up wearing? A pastel cardigan and loafers or steel toed boots and a plunging V-neck?
One of our pastors once said you know where your loyalties lie when you review your checkbook. What better place (albeit chaotic, overpriced, and not my favorite of all places) to bring your character to observe her behavior.
Does she head straight for Barnes & Noble? Or is she buying more sugar-coated pretzels than she can carry? Does she tire quickly and call it a day after an hour or is she browsing every single storefront? How fast does she walk? Does she make conversation with anyone or is shopping all business with her? Does she have the money to buy what’s she’s ogling?
A Sporting Event
This is where my husband would love to zap me into a character so I’d go with him to a sporting event. That aside, what fun to see how your character would react to the wave, the break-your-budget cost of food, the jeering and cheering crowds.
Does she wear layers or is she freezing the whole time? Does she avoid going to the bathroom at all costs? How rowdy does she get? Does she meld with the crowd or stand out like an oversized thumb (guess she wouldn’t stick out much at all with those awkward fan thumbs wielding around in the wind)? Who does she root for or does she discreetly pull a book out of her purse?
Ah, my haven. Enough about me…what does she do?
Does she dart in and out within a matter of seconds? Does story time catch her eye? Is she able to carry all of her books out without tripping? What kinds of books has she checked out? Does she ask anyone’s opinion about a specific book? Does she use the library system to look anything up or browse randomly?
An Elementary School Field Trip
Yah hoo…a field trip.
It almost doesn’t matter where she goes. What’s more important is how she interacts with the children. Is she constantly rolling her eyes or is she laughing and giving high fives as they learn new things? Did she preplan and bring wipes for sticky hands? Does she take notes? Is she sad because of something she remembers about her own childhood? Where does she sit on the bus?
Pretty sure I don’t need to expound upon this one much.
Her actions will scream at you if you choose to bring her here. Tears, non-stop fidgeting, swaying to the worship music, going over her bills, head bent in reverent prayer? Watch closely. See her. Let her show you who she is.
Have you ever been inspired to come up with unconventional ways of getting to know your characters better? Which one of the above has the potential to reveal the most about a character you’ve created?
Bio: Wendy lives in New England with her husband, their three young girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she’s spending time with loved ones, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. Her work has been published in Christian Fiction Online and in numerous anthologies, including Love is a Flame published by Bethany House. She graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature. Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ to learn more about Wendy. Or check out her Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Writer-Wendy-Paine-Miller/232985413400039 and Twitter https://twitter.com/wendypmiller pages.
7 responses to “Six Places To Take Your Characters to Get to Know Them Better– A Guest Post from Wendy P. Miller”
Thanks so much for featuring me here today, Jenny! This was a fun one to write. I’m hanging with some of my characters in Florida. 😉
I tweeted about your blog post yesterday — and then forgot to come back and comment! Duh!
James Scott Bell challenges writers to think of unusual settings for characters — don’t just have them eating meals at restaurants. You gave us some great ideas. I confess I did set my characters at a favorite restaurant — but it’s a different kind of restaurant: a Brazilian grill, where Gauchos bring meat to your table on long swords. And this was a very tense scene — confrontational — between 2 brothers. So I thought the backdrop of swords was apropos. 🙂
Love this. Beth. Swords are definitely apropos! 🙂
What a fun restaurant to envision a conversation, eh hem, confrontation…thanks for sharing that, Beth & for the tweet!
Loved this, Wendy, especially the challenge to think of my characters in different settings. Somehow my characters always find themselves at the gym. 😉
I guess I have lazy characters. They never work out. 😉 In a fantasy land, neither do I.
Wow, that’s a great place to take them. Are they sweating like crazy on the stairmaster or politely doing sit-ups in the corner…could reveal lots!