Friday, September 25, 2009

Building Your Main Characters

I'm currently working on building my character profiles for my WIP, Parlor, and thought I would talk about the process in which I'm going about doing that. I've started off with the basics of what he looks like. When doing that, I like to flip through magazines (usually Teen magazines to get the right age group) and get a sense of hair, eyes, clothes, etc. One thing I stay away from, celebrities. I don't want a celebrity's manners, personality, etc. to rub off on me when building a character, specially my hero/heroine. I want him/her to flourish and become their own person. My goal is to get a good picture of what my character looks like and I usually start to set up a character board with pictures from the magazines.

Once I have the look of the character, I can start to picture him/her in my head. A lot of the character's personality should come from the story. How would this person deal with the situations I throw them into? Do they want to be the hero, or are they reluctant to start on the journey I've set them? A lot of times, just thinking of the plot of the book and what the character will have to go through helps to shape them. Thinking about what they like/dislike, what they are comfortable in (clothes wise) and what they're hobbies are also helps give you a better idea of who this person in your head is.

I think what rings true in a book is when the author believes in their character. This person a writer has created has to be comfortable with the character living in their head for the duration of writing the book. I'm not saying you have to love your character at all times, but you have to respect them for who they are even if you might not agree with a path they want to take.

So I ask you, what exercises do you do to build your main character?

Monday, September 21, 2009

From Dictionary to Delete Key

I was doing some writing last night. Late. Like after 10pm. I’m a morning writer, usually, getting up between 5-5:30am. Early, I know, but I go to bed at exactly 9:07pm so it works for me.

But now I know why writing at 10pm on a Sunday is not my norm. I read over the meandering paragraphs this morning and quickly hit the delete key before my cat could read the words over my shoulder. Cats can be so cruel.

There was one good word in the 400, however, and that word was: mandala. The context of the sentence was something like: Paige’s hair glowed around her like a mandala.

You see why I deleted the rest?

Anyway, I basically pulled that term from the depths of my mind – reaching back to an art history class I took about ten years ago. I had a vague idea of what it meant - the amber glow around the heads of religious icons as seen in religious paintings. But after deleting my night time ramblings, the word stuck with me. I had to be sure I’d used it in the correct context in a sentence I’d wiped from my screen. (I’m a bit anal, eh?)

So it was off to Clearasil ads aside, this site is my go to source for quick definitions, synonyms, etc. They even have audio buttons you can click to hear the word pronounced properly.

And what did I discover? That I hadn’t really used the word properly. I was describing a simple halo – while a mandala is a sacred circle that encompasses the entire figure.

Ah….saved once again by the delete key and by a handy online reference source. What online reference tool has your back? Wanna share? I can always use more online tools.