Monday, July 3, 2017

A New Trick for Getting Into Your Character's Skin #WriterUnstuck

Do you ever have trouble getting at the heart and soul of one of your characters? You've tried journaling or free-writing from his or her perspective. You've answered all their questions -- what their deepest desire is, what dark thing happened in their past, what their greatest emotional need is, and so on. You've stepped into their skin in every way you can think of, yet, when writing their character, they still feel lacking in personality somehow.

Here's a little trick I stumbled upon that helped me tremendously with a recent character who, after trying all the usual devices, was still too stiff to be real. Maybe it'll help you. As well as answering the important questions and journaling from my character's perspective, I tried the same technique from the perspective of other characters involved with them. In other words, I wanted to know from another character in the book what his/her view of said character was. Wow! What a difference. Try it. The other character might be a parent, a sibling, a best friend or lover -- or it might even be your problem character's nemesis. Everyone will see them from some other aspect, and you'll be surprised by the things they tell you.

You might be surprised at how characters see one another.
They definitely won't all view the individual the same way.

Did you ever wonder how other people see you? If your mom, best friend, or coworker were to write about you and give free rein to say anything they wanted, what would they have to say? How would they describe you? What secret insights might they share? What memories and stories would they tell about you?

I found it amazing how doing this with my stiff character brought out the substance of her personality in ways I hadn't yet imagined. So try it. Hop into the head of any other surrounding character, and let them talk about the one you're having trouble with. Sit back and soak in their gossip. Let them introduce you to that character in a whole new light.

Write on!

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