I’m a character driven writer. Even my first bits of drivel were driven by my characters…and trust me when I say it was total drivel. (my writing looked like the head hopper bunny on steroids)
But that’s another post—I want to talk about how to seriously get into your characters heads. So it’s not you writing, but more-or-less, them telling you what to write. Let me tell you, it can get quite fun when they become the boss.
Especially when they are pissed about a certain plot arc. Or they yell at you because you won’t write their story right now. (I currently have one bad girl character locked in a padded room so I can’t hear her complain—you’re over 3 books away, hush! oops, sorry)
#1 – Know the basics like the back of your hand. You know, name, hair color, eye color, height, build, age, what they do for a living, where they live…the basics. Or, like me, have a character cheat sheet. You don’t want to be that one writer who switches eye color because you got it mixed up. I did it. Fortunately, I went back and fixed it before I sent it off.
#2 – Know their history.
When you just meet someone, all you know is what you see. But there is always more than meets the eye. Get to know that stuff. All the skeletons and back history. Their wacky ass mom and father who’s a felon. Whatever it is, know it. Will you put all of it in your story? Probably not. But the more you know about them, the easier they are to write. The more real they will become.
#3 – Know their dirty ass-lil-secrets.
The yuck and the stuff they don’t want anyone to know. The stuff they won’t tell their best friend. The stuff they stuff so deep you gotta pry it out with a hammer and a chisel. Yeah…that stuff! (trust me, it’s worth the hassle)
So how do you figure all this out?
The character interview—or a spreadsheet if you’re that type. (which I couldn’t do if my life depended on it) I’ve found an excellent interview recently by K.M. Weiland. I mean it gets deep. (she also has a lot of other great tips if you look around there)
It helped me get into my hero’s head for the anthology. I knew nada about him when I started. I can tell you he’s talking now.
Personally, I almost always start with a picture and work from there. Every now and then I start with a name. But I will ALWAYS find a picture for a muse. I’m visual. It’s a must for me. For some peeps it’s not that big a deal, but I suggest if you’re having trouble getting into your characters head, try it. Matter of fact, get several pics of your MC. Different expressions and outfits. Or, if you’re like me, find them on video somewhere so you can see them move. Total time suck but so worth the research. Trust me, when you actually see your hero do his smirk, you will thank me later 😉
Matter of fact, I will take days working on character stuff before I even write a word. But when you finally do write the first word, odds are, your characters will be babbling away and you won’t be able to write fast enough.
Love and happy reading/writing!