CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT V
Some years back a dear writing friend of mine encouraged my writing efforts by giving me the book, Fiction is Folks by Robert Newton Peck. The first line of his statement about this book will tell you why I’ve kept it within arm’s reach on my shelves. “Robert Newton Peck does not believe in writing stories or novels. He lets his characters write them…” With that in mind let’s talk a bit more about the emotional connection between author, story, and reader.
As THE author, the characters you’re creating can’t help but share some of your DNA from eye color to emotions and emotional scars. However, it is best not to include so much of yourself in one particular character so that folks will recognize you. On the flip-side of that coin, is the blessing is that you’re able to understand the depth of emotion your various characters are feeling and reacting to—thus being able to write an excellent scene. Your readers will immediately identify with the authenticity you portray! Fear NOT. Employing the emotion-card is an essential skill in writing for all genres—even non-fiction.
Here are a few basic ideas to remind yourself of as you enhance your characters.
- First, ask yourself what YOU would feel in the midst of the situation you’ve placed your character in. Explore that avenue of thought into the depths. Fold a 3×5 card in half and make bullet-point notes the left side.
- Second, consider what your BEST FRIEND might feel in the same situation and make those notes opposite the first ones. It is also helpful to repeat this discovery process as you imagine what other well-known-to-you people might do: Parents, Siblings, Spouse, Pastor, etc.
This one exercise will provide you with a multitude of keywords which will, in turn, trigger the development of multiple characters IN the book you’re currently writing AND future books.
- NOW…do your RESEARCH! The book mentioned above (Fiction is Folks) is a good start and your local Librarian will help you find others. However, Internet research is a goldmine of information.
- The online version of the magazine, Psychology Today, will offer you general as well as very specific studies on human emotion.
- Wikipedia has an excellent definition on the topic of emotions in humans.
- Lists of all the emotions of the species known as human are plentiful, and an excellent item to KEEP for the future.
- Research the term “basic emotions,” and the term “complex emotions.”
- Finally, talk (face-to-face) with a psychologist, counselor, or psychology/social work professor. The insights and words used in those conversations will fill several notebook pages and give you very useful phrases for your characters to speak.
Some time ago, I was asked WHY these emotion elements are so important. That writer was attempting to create logical, independent, thinking characters who really had no need for emotion. I happened to know that a favorite genre of fiction for that person was Science Fiction. So I asked, “Do the computerized robots or AI’s in those novels function well without emotion?” He paused. Then we began listing the robot characters. Without exception, each author had developed emotion into that character—thereby ensuring that readers would identify with them—feel sympathy for them—and enjoy reading. SO…open the Kleenex box and fire UP those emotional outbursts. Emotion is the connective tissue that will hold every story together. ⚓︎
|ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.