After five-plus years of writing my finally finished book, Seam Keepers, a burning new story has sparked into life. Although I am still in the querying stage of my first book, I can’t seem to snuff the light from this new idea seeking passage to the page. And though Seam Keepers has a sequel in need of completing, this new story inspiration doesn’t seem to mind sharing in the limelight.
As I delve into character building new personas that will surely fill my head over the next year, I am overwhelmed by all I have learned and accomplished as a newly self-acclaimed writer. And by accomplished, I mean failed, fallen on my face, floundered in the depths of hell before learning how to do it better (not right, because I don’t believe there is one right way to write).
The characters from Seam Keepers developed over time, slowly becoming real to me. I’ve spoken with them while driving home from work or on long road trips. We’ve taken walks together, shared meals, and even watched movies on Friday nights with wine and chocolate. I feel so comfortable with them now, I’d forgotten the shyness brand-new characters can bring. The quiet faceless spirits hovering in the doorway, hoping to be noticed and included and befriended.
What’s clear now about creating characters, versus my earlier days of writing, is their faceless forms have color. They sparkle with a luster it took weeks and months to see in my first writing project. Instead of the flat silhouettes my first book characters held in the beginning of development, these new one’s buzz with energy. They are simply awaiting their new forms to join us on the sofa…or in the car…or on a hike into the beautiful pacific northwest. They whisper for me to fully find them. And as their forms evolve, I can’t help but notice my own character—changed.
Not only have I taken writing classes and plunged into reading other authors (within and outside my genre), but I have grown in the knowledge of who I am as a character. As a writer. As an author. My own color has returned after years of writing woes. I am not the same person sitting on a sofa with a laptop and cup of coffee, from five years ago, completing a writing-challenge. I am not the girl who only told stories in black and white, instead of bringing them to life (although I’m still learning to do that better). Suddenly, I am the girl who breathes existence into characters so they can tell their own story.
I have become a facilitator of my stories, or at least that’s how it feels to me. One who sees bursts of color, hears character voices beg for release into the universe…or demand it, or request politely. Some send me dreams, while others write love letters or ransom notes. At times I smell their perfume, or the aroma of food they love to eat. Their means of attracting my attention only lead more to their natural traits and defined body forms. I simply interpret their decisions and intentions and emotions to the world. They already are, I need only focus on who they are to be.
I am still on the journey of publishing my first novel, Seam Keepers, but regardless of the world’s opinion, or the outcome of my endeavors; I am forever changed. My own character has been transformed over this long writing excursion. And I am better for it. Hopefully my characters are better for it too. Brighter, at least!
Writing Advice: Character Development – Whatever Works!
I have learned various ways to develop story characters. From filling out resumes and questionnaires, to interviews, to giving each potential character a verb of action to later release on every page.
But what I’ve decided works…is whatever works! Whatever a writer needs to do to resuscitate their character-ness onto the page; that’s the trick.
For me, I imagine them alongside me doing the everyday things I do. It’s that everydayness that creates their lifelike shifts to the page. For you, it might be an interview or even a simple sketch. Whatever exercise it takes for you to make your characters appear real in a room, do that.
On a side note, I do enjoy perusing Pinterest for Character Inspiration. I have a board with this title you are free to check out: https://www.pinterest.com/celainecharles/character-inspiration/. It helps me look at the characters in my head as real people. There are definite limitations, obviously. Who knows if the characters pictured in your mind have matching photos on Pinterest? But, however tricky to find an exact replica of the character pictured in your mind, Pinterest photos can provide snapshots about the general look of a character. Then, in my brain, it’s planting that character next to me at the dinner table after a busy day at work or driving in heavy traffic with them. Once they’ve experienced life situations with me, that’s the step that pushes them from fantasy into reality…well, relatively speaking.
There are many resources online about character development. Far too many to post. Spend a little inspiration time researching these options until you find what works for you. Just know, there isn’t any one way (or right way) to bring life to your story characters. Find the way that works for you and then stay as consistent as you can in their responses on the page. But that, my friends, is a whole new topic to blog about.
Happy Writing (because at least you’re writing),
Celaine Charles, January 12, 2020
Image and Content Credit Links:
https://www.pinterest.com/celainecharles/character-inspiration/ (my Character Inspiration board)
https://www.facebook.com/229487481553/posts/character-development-via-line-shape-and-color-process-workinprogress-blindconto/10157646264936554/ (art by Kayti Didriksen)
http://www.artathomeatl.com/store/p125/AMIS_Fall_2017_Art_at_Home_class_registration_-_5_and_up.html (color painted dog)
https://twitter.com/_maeves/status/975379099932770305 (Coraline drawings)
https://stosbcn.tumblr.com/ (girl in cap…and many more amazing characters to view at this site)
https://www.behance.net/gallery/60796009/-LAYERS-StyleCharacter-Development (wrapped in blanket…and more amazing characters to view at this site)
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/nyc-subway-mini-moments-guillo-perez.html (Nyc Subway Mini Moments, by Guillo Perez)
***For the image with multi-art pieces at the top, I was unable to find the proper site to credit. I got as far this link: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/242983342381324715, but it would not open properly. If you know who the creator is, please let me know so I can give proper credit. Thanks!
Categories: fiction, Thoughts on writing...
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I find character development quite difficult, I either have a picture in my mind or a name but not both straight away. They normally exist becasue they have a role to fulfill in the story but apart from that that’s all I get so I need to work on how I develop them for sure.
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That’s how I start too, with a name. The face usually doesn’t come into focus until the end. It’s a rough process that takes time (well, for me). I think it’s something all writers are always trying to do better. Good luck with your developing. Share if you find some new miraculous way to help make the process smoother! 🙂
It’s good to know I’m not the only one that struggles and anything I find out to make it easier I’ll definitely share 😀
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