Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting in Character by Christy Monson

I'd like to introduce you to Christy Monson, one of my new writer buddies. Christy did a Guest Blog for us a couple of weeks ago. She's joining our blog as a regular, as soon as we can figure out the technicalities of adding her to our blog. Okay, so Carolyn and I are a little technically challenged. (Where are you, Laura, when we need you.) Christy will post on Mondays, so check back for more from her next Monday. I'll be back again next Tuesday. LG

I attended a workshop with Clint Johnson at the League of Utah Writer’s Roundup in September. He had us write an incident from one character’s point of view, and then he asked us to write the same scene from another character’s point of view. In each exercise, the setting was seen from different eyes. The smells and sounds were different. The voice of each carried a unique view of the world. Internal and external dialogue differed according to the person.

When I write my scenes, do I take time to get into each character’s head to really know their world? Do I really let them have their own thoughts and actions?

Relationships with my characters can be tricky sometimes. It takes time for me to become friends with my characters. And, as friends, sometimes we don’t think alike. We have to discuss issues and come to an agreement, and I’m the one who usually has to ‘listen up.’

For instance, in my novel, CLAWING EAGLE, my main character (a Hopi Indian Youth) and his friend go to the Grand Canyon to capture a young eagle. At first I had them climb down a ledge and throw a blanket over a sleeping eagle, but both the boys let me know that wasn’t how they wanted to catch the bird. Besides, didn’t I know the eagle would fly away. Then I had them throw a net over the raptor when he was eating a rabbit, but that wasn’t right either. They informed me that was how you catch fish. Finally, I contacted a raptor expert who told me exactly how to build a blind to catch the bird. The boys constructed a shallow grave and covered it with pine branches. One of them crawled inside to wait. The other tied a rabbit to the cover. When the eagle dove for the rabbit, the boy inside the grave reached between the branches and caught the eagle’s leg. Both boys liked it, and they were successful.

Go figure! Whatever works, I say.

Christy Monson


Dawn said...

I'm "fairly" good at getting into my protag's head..but sometimes I slip on the side characters. Thanks for this post - reminds me I need to make sure my voice is different for each POV character.

Jolene Perry said...

I try to do most scenes from more than one perspective. I don't always write both out but I have done that - just to make sure that all the right things are said.

Talei said...

I'm like Jolene, I don't write both POVs either but I think it might be a good exercise. Thanks for the great tips! ;)