Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You WILL Talk To Me

Sitting down to write this blog post, I had an image in my head of backing one of my characters into a corner and forcing her to talk to me by any means necessary--threats, tears, gunpoint, whatever.

Because that's pretty much what it's like for me when I write a book.

See, my first drafts start off so...first draft-y. Characters aren't fully fleshed out and are one-dimensional at best. And often times, they do things that serve my plot well, but make no sense based on personality. Like, "Why would the girl who's afraid of the dark be wandering around a forest at midnight?"

But, as I've discussed before, I ignore those details and push through my first draft. It's in the revision stage that I give my characters layers--quirks, backgrounds, likes/dislikes and weird habits. Of course, I start with an overall emotional arc for each character, but it isn't until the story portion is complete that I can sit back and scrutinize the puzzle pieces.

When my first draft is done, I sit down and do a good old character inventory. Embarrassing moments, first kiss, favorite food, celebrity crush, etc. And I tweak it around and twist it until relatable, but also unexpected and funny. Like, for instance, one of my YA characters has a crush on...Phil Collins. Strange, no?

When I wrote the sequel to A Bump, I didn't have to worry about any of that. The characters were already fleshed out. I "knew" them. And THAT was the greatest joy--it was like sitting down with old friends and catching up on good times. I was so connected to all of them that I couldn't get the words down fast enough. And often, they were all talking in my head at once.

Which often lead to moments where I'd find my husband staring strangely at me and I'd say, "What?" And he'd tell me that I was just sort of whispering to myself about a character. (Maybe it's best that writing is a solitary profession, no?)


Jillian Cantor said...

It's interesting what you said about writing a sequel and already knowing the characters, feeling like they are old friends. Sounds fun! Now I want to try it :-).

Tracy Madison said...

I love this post! So much of it reosonates with me. :)