Monday, April 4, 2011

Curiouser and Curiouser

Like Alice, sometimes I get so caught up in the story that I forget to speak - or write - good English.

I'm consumed with a burning desire to understand  what "my people" are thinking, and feeling.  I've usually sewed them together, Frankenstein-style, with bits and pieces from this person I've met and this person I've heard a story about and that person I've seen in TV, plus a slice of my own personality, but in the process of writing, they become real to me.  It's a journey we are all taking together, and though sometimes they behave as I planned, in my outline, other times  they lead me down quite a rabbit hole of adventure.

Sometimes we make up slang together, sometimes we "waste" time on scenes or dialogue that ends up trashed, because it goes no where.

Of course, nothing is ever wasted, because all time spent getting to know our characters helps us write them in other chapters.  It may become part of backstory that is revealed in another book (if we're not thinking sequel and prequel when we write a stand-alone, we should be.)

I like hanging with "my peops."  The more I discover about them, the more I want to know.

This leads me to be rather curious nosy, asking as many intrusive questions whenever I meet someone with an unusual personal story, as I can get away with: "Really?  Why did s/he do that?  What happened next?  How did the husband/wife/uncle/neighbor/boss/dog react when that happened?"  I may not call upon that story, or a facsimile thereof, for years, but I will probably use it someday.  I want my peops to carry out borderline crazy but believable actions based on who they are, what their backgrounds are...

I have no interest in creating "perfect" characters, who always say and do the right thing - unless they have OCPD, in which case the perfection is a facade that's going to crack in the course of the story.  Flaws - like bad grammar in times of stress - are what make us human, help us connect with one another.

Except in wood carved illustrations, as above, people aren't black-and-white, but all shades of all colors.  They're flawed and they're beautiful and they're silly and I need to know what makes them tick.

How about you, are you curious about your characters?
Tell me about it in the comments 
(which I believe are working again.)