Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Revision Tip: Lending your memories to your characters

I've been hard at work revising UNDISTURBED and one thing that has really helped me is to tap into my memory bank and add those emotions to my story.

I practiced this during the Writer's Digest Conference this fall and it worked so well that I find myself asking: "How would i feel if this were me?"

It's hard to be honest when it comes to writing fiction. We're writing to entertain and inspire and at times our message or purpose can get lost in all those eloquent words. If you want your readers to connect with your characters you have to give them reason to. It also means that you might have to share some very personal feelings.

It's hard describing emotions. These are things we feel that have no tell tell signs. I've found the most honest and simply stated lines of my story are the one's that my readers connect with the most. If I could I would fill the entire novel with them.

As an author we have a direct link to our characters. We know what they're feeling and thinking before they do. It can be hard to pull back and survey your story with blind eyes, which is why BETA READERS are so important. They know nothing about your story so when they make a note that says "I feel like I don't know this character." or "What's the character thinking?" These are signals that you've been keeping the emotional content to yourself.

Don't just bypass these comments thinking your Beta Readers "don't get it." or "They skimmed instead of reading it." I know when I beta read I am even more critical than I would just reading a book, because that's what I expect from my readers.

Filling in the holes in your story can only make it better. No one has ever complained that a book was filled with too much emotion.

When you can't use your own memories. For example if a character has a stalker or they've been abducted and you have no knowledge of that, access a time when you were afraid for your life or extremely paranoid (lol). We've all been there. Walking home after dark, looking over our shoulder every few seconds. Eyeing every person on the street as we pray they just keep walking.

Teens may not talk or interact the way I did, but just like there are no new stories there are no new emotions. The heart break, fear, and angst they feel is just like our own. We just have to access it and lend it to our characters.

How about you, what tricks do you use to create emotional depth?

1 comment:

  1. Very good blog!

    One of the things I've done with my characters has been to show bits and pieces of their private lives that hint at what makes them who they are. I've referenced with one character a rather shaky relationship with her mother... and with another main character his estrangement from his long time mentor. I've found it's the little details that enrich the characters as we go along.


Yay! I love comments.