Thursday, 24 February 2011

Characters and the problems they bring...

I haven't been writing this week as it's half term, plus I've been recovering from the accident I was involved in last Thursday, so pain and discomfort have pushed my characters to the back of my mind.

Every writer has their own way of creating their characters. But today, mine decided that I'd had long enough ignoring them and demanded attention.

Now I have one, Jack, in his rented cottage needing to find a document that is important to a group of people, but he's not cooperating, or he just doesn't know what he's doing!

There's Marcus in the eighteenth century patiently waiting for a rewrite...

Another is a young woman in a lift- that's all I know about her at the moment...

Then I have another unnamed couple lurking in my head. I have a few possible scenarios for them, a location where the story takes place (a picture from an item in Radio Times a few months ago) and my heroine in a half mask looking mysterious (courtesy of a magazine tidy up).

Generally my novel characters present themselves in a scene-almost a still. I may have a vague idea about one or more of them, but usually it's as if I'm looking at them through a fine net curtain.
From there I have to find out about them, for example their past and what they look like- okay that character may have dark hair from what I can see through the net, but is it black, brown or going grey with all the implications that can suggest?

Sometimes I realise that an idea I'd jotted down months- or in the case of Marcus- years ago, ties into a particular character's story.

For short stories I find it more of a problem. Something will trigger an idea and I may have one or two characters who I know belong with that idea- sometimes they are very clear, but others times they're vague and it tends to be those vague ones that don't go anywhere.
Yes, I need to know them more but I do sometimes wonder if they aren't in the wrong parts. Stories like that need more thinking time.

So next week I'll be back with Jack- one of my very clear characters- in the cottage trying to sort him out- then  I can get him to the next scene where I know what is going to happen...

So, do you have any characters who demand your attention?


Helen Baggott said...

To a non-writer you must sound bonkers!

All those characters running around, waiting for you. How do you keep tabs on them?

Carolb said...

Hopefully by now non-writers will have learnt that writers have these odd traits.:-)
Perhaps writers of fiction just learn how to manage all the characters lurking in their minds- they accept it as normal and their brain sorts it automatically.
But it is a good question Baggy, thanks.

Patsy said...

Sometimes as soon as I write a character's name, I feel as though I know everything about them. It's quite a weird sensation.

Rosalie Warren said...

I love the idea that you are seeing your characters through a fine net curtain.

Carolb said...

Patsy, I do think giving your character the right name for them does open a door to them. Names are important in so many ways.

Rosalie, I find that as I get to know my characters more, they move closer to the net curtain, until they get to a point where they pull the curtain aside and eventually step through.

Obviously every writer has a their own method of discovering their characters- and the important thing is that it works for them. :-)