Creating the Cast

It's characterization week for Miss Rex! Yes, these individuals have lived in my head for more than four years now, and on some level I knew them... but it wasn't deep enough. My shallow relationship with them was getting in the way of telling the story because I didn't know what each person would be likely to do. I had characters who, while being distinct from one another, weren't really three-dimensional people; they were just archetypes carrying out my bidding. Fellow writers, you understand my position.

So this week I've been delving into them. Putting on their skin, so to speak. Which reminds me of this weird episode of Pokemon I just watched with my friend down the hall (then again, what episode of Pokemon ISN'T weird?). There's this guy named Bill who lives in this random lighthouse where he studies Pokemon and hopes that one day the Dragonite making mysterious noises across the ocean will come be his friend. Apparently this Bill guy dresses up as Pokemon for kicks and giggles in order to understand them. So that's what I'm doing this week: Dressing up as Pokemon. I mean, as my characters. I guess it's pretty weird either way, huh.

But I know I've been successful because the characters now feel out of my control. It's odd being worried that a character might behave in ways that make you, the author, look bad. I don't think most people (that is, non-writers) understand that, beyond a certain point, the character has her own free will - she's a person, not a pawn. She does what she does without any consideration for how beating up her fourth-grade classmates and swearing might make me look. Lila, dear, I would very much like my book to be suitable for young readers, not to mention classy....

To which I'm sure Lila would reply, "The hell do I care about your scant readership?"


Writers, how do you get to know your characters? And what do you do with the rogue ones?


jenniferin said...

I love seeing your thoughts unfold in these characters...makes me feel awesome to be your friend:)

And the fact that you said saucy wench just makes it all that much better:P

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