Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shaping and Sharpening

A friend of mine pointed out that many of my characters in my WIP are 'fuzzy'. They lack distinct boundaries and characteristics. They blur together. There are inconsistencies. She said all of this gently of course. I think she felt like she could and should be honest and I'm so thankful she was. It has turned my WIP upside down and set me way back as far as my projected writing schedule. But it has opened doors that needed airing out. Tiny nooks and crannies have been discovered that are so character defining and key to my character arc.

It has done something else that is most unexpected.  It's made my writing easier. Every move and reaction and interaction flows smoother and more true to the character. There's no more guess work. The characters are dictating the pace, the moves, and the direction of the action, development and overall journey.

So how do we shape and sharpen our characters? Here are a few suggestions I've gleaned or learned for myself on tightening the loose ends of your characters.

1. Try finding a picture of your character(s). A critique partner of mine checks out modeling websites and any thing else she can find until she's pinpointed the perfect physical persona for her characters. Then she describes them ... the tilt of the chin, the shade of their eyes when they're upset, the tightening of their face when they're concerned, etc.  So much can be brought to the surface and carved out by doing this.

2. Ask a few questions. I borrowed these from Larry Brooks:
What is your core need? (And what happens when that need is not met?)
What is your greatest fear?
What is the incident that wounded you early in your life, that got you believing a lie? (and what is that lie?)

What suggestions do you have? What works for you?

- Sara

1 comment:

  1. I find that if I'm having a Writer's block with the plot, it is because I'm trying to force my characters into a situation or actions they wouldn't participate in.

    I'm glad you're taking some time to court your characters! ;)