Welcome readers to Week 18 of the MFRW Blog hop.
How do I “do” characters and setting?
You really want to get into this? Surely there are better things to discuss, like plot points, the beach, coffee.
*waits for MFRW to change their minds*
NO? OK, well this isn’t going to be pretty. You might want to grab a rain poncho or something.
My characters come to my mind, as if they had popped into the office and made a request. Imagine that you are the receptionist for a small company and a woman comes in.
“Good afternoon, how may I help you?” My fingers move from the keyboard to grab the pen and notepad.
She looks around nervously. “I have an appointment with Mr. McDaniels for ten.”
“Please fill out these forms.”
I pass the clipboard across the counter to the woman as I open a new client screen. When she returns the clipboard, I enter her name, address, the reason for visit, and any other pertinent information. I begin to process what I’ve entered and then it gets weird. It’s like I trade places with the “boss” whether he’s a private eye, a counselor, or a physician. The character then tells me the details of her visit.
As she tells me what’s going on and what her concerns are, I begin to learn who she is.
Now, in reality, I may be working at the day job. I may be doing housework or I might be driving in the car. All of this goes on inside my brain until I can get to a point where I can sit down and start jotting thoughts down. A friend gave me a character development worksheet that I fill out, but to be honest it’s only partially filled out before the story fully develops.
I’ve said before that I am a plotter – I have been using the W method that the wonderful Karen Docter taught me. This gives me a basic outline that I can fill in the important scenes in between the 9 major plot points. This still allows the freedom to “pants it” while I am making my first draft.
Usually as I am learning my character, the details on setting come out from their first “visit”.
I have had some characters come to me fully developed and practically begging me to write their story, and then others seem a little shy and I have to play twenty questions to dig the information out of them.
Bran, the brother in Kiss of the Dragon came to me fully developed, showing up in my “office” stark naked, fully muscled, demanding my full attention RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, I was really green when I did the draft of that one during nano and it needs major revisions, which is why it’s still in the files.
Julia from Red Wine & Roses was the shy one. She was hesitant to talk about herself. I had to pry the information from her while Derek wanted to talk inside my head for hours. Great dude, shut up while I find out about Julia!
Settings: As I learn the character and their story, the setting becomes clearer. Whether it’s the town they are in, the state, or a small little convenient mart, it’s part of them, part of their story.
I know it would make more sense to make up characters by sitting down and deciding OK, this one will be a male, dark hair, beard no wait a goattee, blue eyes, a scar above his brow, thin lips, tats on his arms and chest, a scar on his thigh. Let’s say he got the scars from a car accident. Let’s call him Joe. It doesn’t always work that way. By the way, this is the description of a character for a piece that I’ve been working on in the background, kind of a pshycho-thriller. If you are judging by appearances you might think he’s the antagonist but he isn’t. He’s sort of an antihero. but I don’t have my W worked out, or what his goal is, or his end game. We just met a few weeks ago, so I don’t even know his name yet.
Nathan’s story unfolded quickly. It was like I was a fly on the wall watching his story unfold like a movie behind my eyes if that makes sense.
Be sure to Preorder your copy of Tempting Fate: Charity Anthology today!
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Write on my friends, write on!