It sounds weird, doesn’t it?.
How can your own characters, which your mind gave birth too, which you clothed and brought up and made them in to this person you “want” them to be, not talk to you..
Quite easily I’ll have you know – I think most writers will agree – that ometimes the sassy little things will sit there and mope and you feel like you can’t do anything about it…
Sometimes those things you love so much will lead you in to a writing block, but the best way to fight that is to just write more…
This is just one of the way’s of many to make them talk to you a little bit more, and in my experience, is the easiest thing to do, but it will differ for everyone.
I think the best way to learn about a character is to write about them, but I don’t mean as in, write about their role in your story, I mean, as in, write about what they did before the story started. Most of the time, you’ll know the story of their lives, the few things that happened before, things that necessarily aren’t important to what they are doing right now, but I think that to properly grapple on to how your characters came to be the person they are now, you need to take time out of your WIP and write about the things that made them who they are. Almost like a short story or a piece of flash fiction. It doesn’t need to be highly edited, or a master piece in anyway, it can just be something you keep for yourself, or, if you want, release it in to ‘The World’ as an extra little tidbit in to ‘Your World’.
For example, one of my secondary characters, Ryan, had a run-in with a Knight he used to squire with. I knew a joust was involved with their final separation, that it was the day he found his horse Bezel and Bezel almost got killed, but I didn’t know the extent of it all – like the emotions and the thoughts my character would have had, or, the hatred he had for the Knight until I wrote about it. I know the Knight changed him for the worst, but there’s always a little part of him that kept him good. Mostly.
My fingers did the work – sometimes they write things I never know are going to happen until they do – and I think Ryan helped me to tell the story that truly showed himself for who he was, or who he wanted to be, even though, it didn’t really work out that way; but every day, this man surprises me and keeps going forward.
It was the story that told me why the two of them weren’t close anymore, the reason why he didn’t look up to him, and the story that also, surprisingly, lead to his family name being redeemed to the King, something I didn’t plan until I wrote about it, but fitted in so perfectly I couldn’t not put it in.
I learnt much more than I thought I would, and I’ve noticed that it sort of bleeds in to the book I’m writing without having to add all those extra words in. It may never get put in to the series at all, but I think that the more you know about the people in your book, the more it comes across in your writing without actually writing it (How it works, I don’t know, but it does).
There are obviously other ways to do this. For example, you could write a letter to your characters (you can find examples of them over here at M.A. Ryan, readtolivetowrite, Uninspiredwriters and even on my own blog here), you could do an interview with your character (I recently found Library of Erana, and it has so many interesting character interviews, it’s insane, here’s a link to her character interview tag). And obviously, you could write a whole new novel or even novella about them.
Look at Cassandra Clare. She’s got several series from the Shadowhunter world, each of them adding another layer of depth and information to a world many people can’t get enough off.
Another way is obviously the Pottemore route. Pottermore has allowed J.K. Rowling to release a whole host of short stories and extra info about the Wizarding World, and to this day, she keeps adding to the world that has inspired hundreds of millions of people! (Happy Birthday Jo and Harry <3)
Obviously, some of us aren’t in that situation yet where we are published. We don’t have that sort of platform, but if you want it to get out there, if you have a world full of little stories you want people to know about, but can’t really justify adding the extra so many words to your main novel; or have more worlds waiting to be written about, so can’t always justify writing more books, blogs and websites are so easily accessible nowadays that you could post the short stories on them as you write them, and, so many years down the line, when your book is published and readers are looking for those little extras, they’ll come across the little gems (or Easter eggs) you planted years before.
I think the worst thing about this is finding the balance between the worlds your writing about now, and the worlds you may still have waiting in the wings, waiting for their time to shine, but I think it’s all about finding a balance and realising when each world needs to finally end (If I ever figure that one out, I’ll make sure to tell you)!
I know this post is a little later in the day than I would normally like, but I tried to write it last night in time for this morning, but my mind didn’t want to form the right sentences for it.
You see, yesterday, I read over a short story that I posted a couple months ago – about Ryan and his joust – and it just reminded me of how important it is to write about them, to write about how they became them. If you fancy a read, you can find it here. It’s not perfect in any way, but it was fun to do, and that’s the whole point of writing – that even though it’s stressful and makes you want to tear your hair out, it’s still FUN!?!
What methods do you use to make your characters talk to you? I’d love to hear about them 🙂
And until next time guys,
Just keep writing…