Friday, February 13, 2009

Writing Lessons: Character, Part 3

Characterization is only half done until you’ve breathed spirit, soul into your character. Characters must have an interior life: desires, dreams, needs, fears.

What does your character desire? Love? Money? Friendship? Revenge? What does your character dream about? What dreams are repressed? What nightmares wake him? What does your character truly need? Freedom from self-doubt? Kindness?

Until you understand the emotional, inner life of the character, you aren’t quite ready to write a successful plot. That’s not to say, that as you write, you won’t learn more about your characters (indeed your characters may even change!) But knowing what a character needs/desires/wants is critical to that character making choices. Choices are what will fuel your plot.

Think of your character—their ID life—what they would do, if you stripped away their ego and superego. Think about their inner/uninhibited child. Write about the character’s desires using a strong, first person “I”:
I want______________________________

I need______________________________

I fear______________________________

I dream_____________________________
Desires/dreams/needs can and do overlap. But characters can also desire and dream about one thing only to discover they need something else. For example, a character dreams of being a musician but needs cocaine. Or an abused character may believe they have no desires, that they are “a speck of nothing,” only to discover they need to dream in order to survive.

Desires/dreams/needs give your characters depth and complexity. Your character’s interior life will shape her motivations and how she might respond to choices and crises within your story.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

Dear Book Lovers,

It is 2009—and I make the New Year’s pledge to live more. To be more open-hearted, more loving. I pledge to write more, read more, listen—soul-open—to the stories told by friends, family, and strangers that have become new found friends.

I pledge to volunteer more—to give grace as the world has given me grace.

Money never defines happiness. BEING defines happiness. Having said that, I wish you the grace and strength to succeed in your life’s journey. I wish you all what you need to care of yourself and your family.

Happy New Year!