Once you have the idea or theme and the framework for the setting of your story, the next step according to the writing manuals is to get to know your main characters. Know what they look like and how they think, their likes, dislikes, desires, worries, problems and so forth. Good advice? You bet. Essential in fact. But to my mind, it doesn’t go far enough.
As a next critical step, I’ve found the best way to get the most out of the personalities who people my novels and stories is to be my characters. By this I mean not only empathising with, but also inhabiting each personality in turn, much as a successful one-person show or impersonator must do. Think Robin Williams.
But there is further step you can use to make your characters live. As humans we have a vibration — or energy if you like — that powers the cells of our bodies, our words and thoughts. I’ve always known that my best writing happens when I’m in that euphoric and very special alpha mode when the scenes write themselves. To allow your characters that freedom, throw away the script, stop trying to control them and listen to them instead. You know them now and you can tune into how they might be feeling or how they plan to resolve a problem or connect with a situation. Let them fledge and they will surprise you. When they take off in an unexpected direction, it will certainly make for an exhilarating write as you tap along behind them trying to keep up — a bit like the dish running away with the spoon! But suddenly you’re in seamless sync — and the result is a personality that really hums…
So why not rip the masks off your characters, let them walk free and see how they perform for you and for your readers? A choice: assignation or assassination?
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For release on November 1 on Kindle, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
‘I say to you, Dana, come prepared to enjoy yourself. That’s the only way this will work…’ When, finally, Dana turns her back on her own career to join her husband Dekker on a company camp in Saudi Arabia, she smothers her apprehension with the conviction that she is doing the right thing. It is the brave new world of the Sixties when anything is possible. What harm can there be in taking six months, a year perhaps, as timeout? And it is, after all, her choice.
But she is totally unprepared for the harsh reality and restrictions of her new environment, for the frustration and unhappiness she will uncover and for the predicament in which she finds herself. On the one hand she tries to support her friends, on the other she is blind to the traps she herself is falling into.
Out of Place is an intense psychological drama about trying to live up to expectations and the dangerous loss of identity that can be a consequence – a story of the intimate lives of ordinary people, their passions, secrets and all-too-human frailties.
Feature pic this page RelaxFoto.de iStock