Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We'd all have to be exactly the same size to see eye-to-eye: making characters distinct

If we all saw everything the same it would be kind of a boring world. In fiction, if our characters all see things the same, well, it’s kind of  boring.

People are different. That’s the beauty and tragedy and mystery and frustration etc…of people. When I’m writing, I sometimes find that my characters start to sound too alike-- or maybe just two of them who I identify with most closely with sound alike. This is not good. Characters need to sound distinct and be distinct. This means not just what they do and how they do it but how they sound when they think and talk.

I struggle with this sometimes. I suppose most writers do. One way to help make your characters more distinct is to focus on their flaws. If your characters don’t have flaws, then that’s a problem too. Most likely they’ll have different flaws, and if they do this might help you make them more distinct. Along these same lines you might think of one sort of major flaw of a character to help you develop that character.

At any rate, characters are not the same size and they should each see the world a little or a lot differently.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Create the story from the inside out

How do you turn on the light? Because that’s one way to look at writing. You have to turn on the light in your fiction. You have to bring your world and story out of the darkness and into the light.

There’s a lot to the question though. The answer would have to cover all the aspects of craft and the somewhat less definable aspects beyond craft. It’s kind of like saying “how do you write a novel?” There are many many answers for that. You can say one sentence at a time but how much does that help? You can  say focus on the characters but…that’s only part of the story. There are so many things you have to do at once without thinking (while thinking a lot) in order to write a novel.

Bradbury says get out of the way. Let your intuition take over. I do think that sometimes you have to do just that. Let yourself be the story, be the characters, and the light will come on. By this I mean see what’s happening through your character’s eyes. Let the light come from that. Move with the character, think with the character, respond to the plot and setting with the character. Create the story from the inside out.