Thursday, November 22, 2012

The List


First off, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope ya’ll are enjoying turkey and some time with your families.  For the first year ever (but hopefully not the last) my husband, eldest daughter and I ran the Turkey Trot in Buffalo, NY. It is an 8k road run and was a bit of a stretch for me. But I did it and had a blast.
Now on to my scheduled post:
On Tuesday I hinted at what I’ve found to be a game changer for me as a writer and that it The List. This was something I learned along the way, but now apply all the time. When I sat down to write my first novel, which is in the 1st person, with 2 MCs, I found that they both sounded the same. They talked the same, they reacted the same, even though in actuality they were totally different people. So I took a break from writing for some much needed research time, only this time I was researching a person, or two people.
I’ve already told you I’m a visual person, so I had pictures of my 2 MCs already. What the list entails is the next step. What do they look on the inside?
The List varies from character to character and I don’t do it for all of them, only the most important ones.  Basically I study them; I decide things about them to the most insignificant detail. I make a list. From what they eat for breakfast to what they want to do with their lives, even down to the cologne/perfume they would wear. In essence, I got to know them. Think back when you first fell in love and you wanted to know every single thing there was to know about that person. The same is true with our characters; if they’re not real to us, how will they be real to the reader? If we don’t love them, then how will they?
This made writing them so much easier, because the flow was there. I didn’t have to stop and think if I was making Rachel sound too much like Joel because of course only she would react that way.
This method also brings with it some surprises. The characters start to do things you’d never expect, but in the end you can’t take it back, because the situations are just as real as them.
For those of you who are wondering: Joel eats Cheerios for breakfast, while Rachel picks up some Oreos off her bedroom floor.