Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Characters

I just got back from Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop in Salt Lake City. I learned many wonderful things from the presenters there, and it was a great experience.
I attended a workshop with Kathleen Duey one afternoon, and I’m so glad I did. She has written for the children’s and the young adult market. She also critiques for  SCBWI every year, and says she finds the same mistakes over and over. Shallow writing with too much “dull stuff.” Her latest works are dark fantasy, which I’m really not interested in reading, but her approach to character is fascinating.
She interviews all her characters very thoroughly at first and keeps a record of it on the computer. Sometimes the interviews are long and sometimes short. She talks with them until she has their story, their inner-most thoughts and their desires. Then she begins to write her book. She lets the protagonist tell his or her story.
She used to outline, but now lets the characters lead the way. If she has someone that tries to take over the scene, she highlights their part, copies and pastes it into another file for later and gets someone else for the part. She directs the action, but lets it flow as the protagonist wishes. It makes for a more powerful story.
She does the same thing with dialogue. She begins by writing just the dialogue. Then she adds the physical setting and grounding, and, lastly, puts in the tags.
I’m going to try her method. I think it will make a much more authentic story. What do you all think? I’m also going to read some of her books—maybe not the recent dark fantasy. But I’ll get the others. Have you read any of her writing?
Christy Monson


CailinMarie said...

that sounds really interesting- good luck with it!

Carolyn V said...

Wish I could have gone this year Christy! That's my favorite conference.

Christy Monson said...

It was the greatest! I loved it