How to get to know your characters, better?

-4th day of Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise-

He sits on a chair in the corner of my mind, in all black. He is looking down at his feet leg resting on his other knee. Arms are crossed as he avoids eye contact with me. My character isn’t speaking. Why?

Have you ever experienced this? Well in the past few days I have come to know this feeling and sometimes this is the horrible excuse that I use to state that I don’t know what to write next. Thing is, that isn’t going to help a person get closer to their characters. This is the conversation I believe I have had with silent characters in the past.

Devin: “Why won’t you talk to me?”

Character: *Sits silently and avoids looking at me. He says nothing.”

Devin: “Fine… If you aren’t going to talk, how can I write about you?” *Devin stomps off in the opposite direction only to realize that her character is still behind her someplace* (Since, it’s in her mind.)

I believe that If writers are not willing to get to know their characters, then how can you write about a shadow? You can’t see any details to their face, you can’t see the scar on his face that he got when he was younger from a wizard. You can’t see her magnificently fierce red hair and lavender eyes. Sometimes you don’t even know their names then.

Since I am a Character Drives your Plot kind of girl, characters are very important to me. Even though I still sometimes hit a roadblock where my characters don’t want to talk. Here are a few things that I have learned help a lot when writing (getting to know your characters) about them.

  1. Character Sketches – By sketches, I don’t mean drawings here. Some people have been known to looking up questions about personality and such, but I have found that I rather just start writing about the character while asking these questions.
    •What does your character want? (This one is a very important question!)
         •What are some ways that you can make sure that your character doesn’t get what they want? Have some conflict to make his or her goal harder to achieve! 
         •Sex? M or F?
         •Name Ideas
         •Role in Story
         •What do they do? (e.g. are they a student? if so where? *Harry Potter a student at Hogwarts)
         •Physical Description
         •Background•Internal and External Conflicts
         •Habbits and Mannerisms 
  2. Search for them – Yes go outside and look for them! haha… okay maybe not. Although going out and watching people really does help with visual characteristics of writing characters into existence. Get on ‘Google’ and search for some faces that look like your character. I will share with you one below. :)

    These two pictures are two that I have in a character study for one of my characters in the current book that I am working on.

    I know this has nothing to do with the character stuff, but I love this dress and how it flows in the wind! hehe

  3. Draw them – This helps a lot, especially when you are in a scene. Draw them out on a sheet of paper. I can hear some people moaning at me, “But, Devin! I am a bad drawer, I can’t draw!” Let me tell you, you can draw. The drawing helps you see your character, even if you are just drawing a stick person… at least you can see them. :)
  4. Act them out – Robert Liparulo gave me this idea. He actually acts out all the scenes in his books with his characters. He gets in his character’s skin. It definitely brings NEW meaning to become your character.
  5. Make them a playlist – I love this… It takes me a while to find certain songs for characters, but it really helps when I do, do it! :)

I hope these tips help you out a little bit when planning out your characters. :)

What about you? Are there some other things that you do when you ‘get to know’ your characters?

Pointers on Post-It-Note Plotting – Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise Day 1 – Turnout :)

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.” -Ernest Hemingway

Hello Everyone,

Today was the first day of my writing challenge. And I can imagine you all want to know how it went? I woke up at 5am. Yes, I actually did it. Spent a little while checking emails and updates and then I went straight to work. Outside my window the sky was a dark blue colour – definitely a twilight colour. I find something very magical and intriguing about the dark blue sky. I wrote 2,209 words all before 7:30am. When I saw how fast the words were appearing on the page, I realized that this baby wants to get written. :) Which I am so excited about.

Some pointers for Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise

  1. Stop writing when you know what will happen next – Ernest Hemmingway once said that he stops writing when he knows where he will start up the next day. I have been trying this the last few times I have been writing and it works rather well. You should try it, if you haven’t yet! :) I am excited for my next 5am morning start on Monday and who knows maybe I can get out more than 2,000 words then.
  2. Plot is Purdy Important – Plot has always confused me because some people argue whether their stories are character driven or plot driven. If I would have to choose which one, I think I would be a character drives the story sort of writer. But with this story I have been plotting out ahead of time what I am going to write. What about you? Do you write character driven or plot driven stories? In the picture you will be able to see that I am plotting with post it notes. It’s kind of a nice little break away from the computer/notebook. I write with the word processing program Scrivener and it is also a very, VERY, VERRRRY great program for plotting, character development, and writing your actual novel. I don’t really use Microsoft Word anymore. Many other famous writers use Scrivener now too. If you haven’t checked out Scrivener, do so! I promise it will make a difference in your writing time and organization. (There is a 30-day trial on the website.)

    I decided to use post-it-notes and my open bare wall for plotting. A nice way to get away from the computer and still work on your book plot. I know that some other people use index cards.

  3. Colour– use some colour, it will help your senses and creativity flow. Colour coding topics, characters and much more always helps me keep things straight. :)

    I believe that colour really helps you while being creative. So, when writing why not write in colour. Colour code certain topics, themes, or characters to find them easier! :)

    Colour Coding… :)

    Here is an example of the colour coding and the post-it-note plotting.

    I will be sure to post more hints and ideas next week when I post the next Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise Day 2 turn out on Monday. :)

    There was a part this morning where I was so engrossed in my story; I was writing about an owl and i was in a dark forest at night. Then all of a sudden there was a noise near my window on the clothes line. It was a black crow… he fell off the clothes-line or something. Weird bird, but he gave me a fright. A bit later a bush turkey strolled on by on the fence separating the houses. A bush turkey? I couldn’t believe it. I usually see cats walking on the fence, but a bush turkey? Since, I am telling you a little bit about my neighborhood birds I may as well also throw in that there was another crow on the roof of the house next door and it was carrying a piece of bread – like a full piece. These strange birds. Haha… but yes, that was random. It all started with me getting scared because of a noise and what I was writing.

    Have any of you ever scared yourselves, when writing? Has it ever made you jump?

Writing Goal met for today…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Maryanne Williamson

I have been typing out my notes from “The Ragged Edge” and while doing that I have been revisited by the thoughts and things that the authors spoke about. It was an amazing experience, truly, to talk to Ted Dekker, Eric Wilson, Robert Liparulo, Steven James, Tosca Lee, and also by getting to know some amazing writers from around America. I met two girls and we started a writing group via email. I am super excited to see how it goes!

The quote above means heaps to me, Tosca Lee told us all about it, and you know what? It is 100% true! Not just a little bit true… but completely true. My sister and I are in Minneapolis now and will be heading home tomorrow, so, I am extremely excited to get home so I can write, write, write. I decided I would like to have the first draft of my book “The Created Ones” done before October. So, that means I must WRITE everyday and a lot!

I made my wordcount for today! I wrote 1,390 words. YAY!

I also decided that I would start reading more, so a few days ago I started reading Robert Liparulo’s book “The 13th Tribe” and the cool thing about this book, is that it’s the pre-release book and he let it out for the Ragged Edge writer’s only, so I am reading it and if I get a review in before November (which, I will.) My acknowledgment will be in the front of his book.

Two last updates:
1. Sweepstake: Let your friends on facebook/email/blogs know about my blog and  facebook writer’s page – Just let them know about me by posting my blog or facebook writer’s page on their wall or something and then show/tell me what you did. Give me the Url and I will be able to see it! The winner will be told, on August 18th.
2. Book Reading: August 18th, 7-8:30pm, at the Teaberry in Fargo (on Broadway, Downtown.)
3. Arts Publication: I have a writing meeting coming up with a Arts publication in Fargo North Dakota on the 23rd. I am excited and will definitely share more about this soon.

It will be tricky and up and down like a roller-coaster because along with my goal I will be going shopping and stuff in Minneapolis (as my sister will be going away to college next week!) It is so hard to believe that she is old enough for college, as I still see her as the little tomboy sister, with a baseball cap, pocahantas shirt and jean skort with crooked pig tails. I miss that cute little person, but to think that she has grown up and is still here. It’s just hard to see that soon, she will be in another States following her dreams.What are your dreams? Tell me yours and I will tell you mine in the next post. :)

Tomorrow, my writing goal will be 2,000 words. Welcome to my dungeon, ready for a trip? Buckle up because, I promise… it is going to be unlike any other.