Characterization

Gosh – I admit it – as a part-time hack, it seems like it take me forever to ‘get’ things about writing. Take characterization for instance. In the past, I’ve always known what I want my characters to represent, then I let them ‘do their thing’ for the novel. Oh, we’ve been through some things together, my characters and I, it’s true. And ‘being’ with them and seeing them in certain situations has revealed lots of different facets of their character. It’s been organic and I am more the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person.┬áBut I can see now I’ve been remiss.

After reading more about characterization, I understand what the problem is – and it’s what I’ve known about any relationship: the way you really get to know someone is by spending time with them.

Well, I’m diving into it this week. Yes, I’m cozying up with my characters in a way I never have before. I can see now that I really need to sit down with them one-to-one. To have those heart-to-heart conversations where I ask them questions about themselves. To put the spotlight on them and probe for information. It’s funny actually thinking about it. I realise the ones I am most looking forward to knowing better are my villains and it makes sense – I understand them the least!

I’ll come back to this later with more and let you know how it goes!

Introducing/re-introducing characters

What have I been working on this week? What comes into my mind as I wake in the morning, laying in that half in-between state? I have a bad guy to introduce. He’s been on my mind for a while now. As this week’s gone on, I’ve struggled with how best to do that introduction. He’s an important character but I don’t want the introduction to scream that do I? I want something subtle, almost like a sleight of hand – there he is – but now he’s not. And I want to do it in such a way as to show his character with some action if possible. And of course, I don’t want everyone to know he’s the baddy – at least, not immediately. It’s a lot to balance.

And what about my characters from the last book that are now re-emerging in this book? How much of a re-introduction do I have to do? Some of them are minor but important characters. If I’m not careful, I could just sound like an MP3 on repeat playing the same song over and over again. On the other hand, that can work.┬áJust take Neville Longbottom, for instance. All he did for 3 books was lose his toad over and over again. But when it finally came time for Neville to do something, we knew who he was, didn’t we?

I think my way forward is to keep playing around with it. To just let it float around in the back of my mind. At least, that’s the way I write. I think of the problem, then let my unconscious mind work on it while I do other things. That said, I think the new primrose I just bought need planting out. And if you see me out there, trowel in hand, it’s not an ordinary trowel – think of it as a Writer’s Improvement Device (WID). I have lots of them!