Making Your Characters Live
I attended a workshop with Clint Johnson at the League of Utah Writer’s Roundup about a year ago. 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?
As I said last week, I’m writing a Family Councils Book for Familius. When I was asked to do this at first, I didn’t even know what I was going to write. But as I got going, I started having a lot of fun with it.
As you all know, I’m a retired Marriage and Family Therapist. I have years of stories of people’s lives stuck in my head that I can write about. Of course I have to change each incident up a bit and give the people new names. (That’s not hard because I don’t remember a lot of the names.) I do remember the people and their feelings and struggles. And the hope and strength they found within themselves to continue their quest. They are very real to me still.
Since I’ve been writing for several years now, I can make the characters and incidents live much better than I could before. It’s fun to take a two page story and make each family member live—with real feelings and quirks, etc. I love that I can make them live.
Maybe when I get back to writing fiction again, I’ll be better for having done this exercise in nonfiction. I don’t know. All I do know is that it’s fun to make the characters come alive in each story.
How are your characters? Are they living or flat?
Happy writing, Christy