Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Learning about my leads

Okay, so much for posting once a week. Can I use the excuse of being ridiculously busy leading up to Christmas?
I didn't think so.

Part of my problem is I don't want to blog unless I have something interesting or useful to say. Well, I've finally thought of something worth sharing, so here goes.

I am currently completing a course with the American Christian Writer's Guild. It's a two year correspondence course and covers the basics of both non-fiction and fiction writing, including a few lessons on understanding the publishing world.
I have FINALLY reached the lessons on fiction writing and am loving them. My mentor is an editor and always gives me such great feedback. I am learning so much.
The lesson I've just completed has been a fun one. I had to write a 5-7 page biography on one of the lead characters in my WIP. I included everything from family life to food habits, from the clothes he likes to how he spends his money. It was a fascinating task and I am now going to do another one of my other lead character.
Over the years, I have been guilty of not knowing my characters well enough, simply giving them history as I needed it, making up things as they came into play. After doing this biography I've realized just how much I was missing out. To write my characters convincingly, I need to know them intimately. Even if I never mention their history in my text, I have legitimately built this character into the back of my mind and I know why he does or says anything.

I'm sure most of you do this already, but if you don't, I really encourage you to start learning about your characters. It's a fascinating process and will make your story so much better.
Here is a list of things I was told to start with. I have added other things and built from there.
- The nature of their childhood
- Fears
- What they love and what they hate
- General temperament
- Dreams and longings
- Vices
- Quirks
- Relationships: Everyone - family, friends, pets, colleagues, teachers, peers, etc
- Tastes in food, music, clothes, entertainment, recreation, transportation - you get the idea
- Education and career
- Appearance, health, disabilities
- Secrets
- Details of their history
- Gifts and talents
- Verbal habits
- Where they live, and why, and how they feel about it.

Well, good luck and have fun learning about your leads :)

Oh yeah - Happy New Year too. May 2010 be a good one for ya :)