The other day, I was talking to my husband about a plot twist in one of my stories. I went on and on (who me?) about the individual characters’ needs and wants. I guess I must have gotten a bit passionate in my tone (and flailing arms) because he started to chuckle. “These people are real to you, aren’t they?”
Yes. They are.
Most writers will describe their stories as their babies. The characters within them are very real to us. We want the best for them. They hold our hearts as we release them into the world. We love them and, admittedly, we want others to love them too.
If we’re lucky, they talk to us. (If we’re luckier, it’s not at 3 AM.) We want our characters to share their hopes. Their dreams. And their opinions. It’s important to know what they want vs. what they need. To us, they are three-dimensional, completely fleshed-out, emotional creatures. If we don’t write them that way, how can they come alive for our readers?
Not sure how to get started? Consider interviewing them. Start out by asking their favorite color. What foods they like. Perhaps their musical tastes. Then dig deeper. Ask them what keeps them up in the middle of the night.
Some of you know that I have been working on a story about a spider named Carmen who dreams of being on stage. She is a very spirited, driven soul who won’t take no for an answer. Even with me.
Here’s a snippet of a recent conversation we had:
Carmen: I want my story to rhyme.
Me: Rhyme is hard to do well, making it a harder sell. Let’s tell your story in prose.
Carmen: No. I want rhyme.
Me: Rhyme has to be perfect. The meter; the rhyme itself. We should stick to prose.
Me: Nothing can sound forced or contrived –
Carmen: *stomps all eight feet* Rhyme! Rhyme! RHYME!!!
Me: *sighs* Fine. Rhyme.
Carmen: You do realize that’s a near rhyme, right?
Me: *head thunk*