“For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me.”
I’ve been having a spot of trouble getting into a certain character’s head so today, at critique group, I mentioned it and asked for their advice. What excellent advice they gave me!
I’ve never done this before but I sat down and began composing diary entries from the perspective of this rather reluctant character. I’ve interviewed my characters, drawn up histories and charts and pedigrees, but I’ve never written journals for them. Since I’m lousy at writing in my own journal, I expected the same kind of reluctance when writing for my characters.
Not so! What delicious fun this is! And do you know what I discovered about this character? She’s a terrible gossip and a liar! (Some of you are saying, “Wow. That fits the bill.” Well you’re wrong. I don’t lie. Much.*) What I really love about this exercise is that I’m seeing sides to my character I didn’t know existed and the parts of her I did know are so much more realistic than I thought. Whoa. She’s a person. How weird is that?
I’m having a lot of fun watching her write these entries and discover that she’s willfully deceiving herself. I knew she felt that way but I never saw it this clearly. How surprising. What’s even more surprising is how much she loves to talk about other people. Not in a vicious, vindictive kind of way but rather a self-protective way. Like if she talks about other peoples lives—even in her own diary—she doesn’t have to confront the way she’s living her own.
What do you know? My character is deeper than a wading pool. I’m totally shocked.
So tell me, do you have moments like this? Do your characters ever surprise you? (Yes, I’m totally channeling my character. Dish! Dish!)
*I seriously do try my best to be honest and kind. Sometimes I fail. I’m working on it. =P