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Posts from the ‘Making Our World Better’ Category

GIVING OUR CHARACTERS SUBSTANCE & DIMENSION

“Honest writing cannot be separated from the person who wrote it.”
Carl Jung

We writers create the best characters when we know ourselves—the depth of ourselves—and tap into that depth when we write, using all our senses.

Writers often have trouble creating believable, unusual characters.

o Instead, we make them cookie-cutter, stereotypical people–and bore our readers.

o Even though we might conduct extensive research, we resist the elements that end in helping us
develop multi-faceted exciting characters.

o Research by itself won’t fix the problem. Why?

o Because the most important element for creating characters with emotional and psychological
depth—wishes, feelings, passion, depth and vision—resides within me, the writer.

o For me to write meaningfully, I must connect my inner world with the outer world of my
creation.

It takes more than just structure to make our writing and our characters come to life.

o Before our characters can stand out from all others we must tap into our inner self, while we
create that character.

o We must be present inside our characters, and in our writing, or our story will not be
successful, for it will lack depth.

o Our readers must hear our voice as the narrator—not some detached fact teller.

o We must create different characters that express all the various voices we have within
ourselves.

o WE, the writer, make the difference between a lackluster character portrayed over and over, and
a character with a fresh, unique voice.

HOW DO WE DO THIS?

o We must make ourselves vulnerable.

o If we are not willing to do this, we cheat our character out of a real-life personality.

o We must take risks.

o We must explore our inner selves.

o We must delve into the parts of ourselves that are the most vulnerable—our own life
experiences, particularly those painful or delightful parts of our childhood.

o When we approach that most vulnerable part of ourselves we must not stop—we must not blink.

o Instead, we write right through that part of our history, thereby giving life to our
characters.

o The search into self can’t be accomplished by our ego.

o We need to confront feelings and desires long hidden from our conscious thoughts.

o When we try to create a character without doing so—our characters become cookie cutter.

o For instance, many people feel a lack of spontaneity in their lives, so we look around at
others, jealous perhaps, or even feel ashamed at our own repressions.

o So, then, when we write, we try to capture that trait in our characters, but rather than being
able to release our characters to spontaneity, we end up creating characters that only imitate
what we are trying to create—much like we do.

When we learn to be honest with ourselves—warts and moles and all, we:

Unlock our own sensory recall and transform our experiences, feelings, high, lows, pain, and joys, into unique, powerful, believable, original characters who are capable of touching the hearts of our readers.

Easy to say—not always easy to do.

PAY ATTENTION

Pay attention? To what, you may ask. Pay attention to everything.

Learn how to tune into life and the world around you—the seen and the unseen. There is so much more to this world, and to those who people it, than we realize.

Pay attention to the weary-looking clerk checking your groceries. Strike up a conversation with her by asking how her day has been. If she’s tired, how many hours she’s worked that day. Find something to compliment them on. Pay attention to how their eyes light up and their backs straighten.

Smile and greet a stranger. Strike up a friendly conversation and enjoy their presence.

Pay attention to the trees blowing in the breeze, or the layer of frost on the ground. Walk outside at night and look up at the moon.

Notice if someone looks like they need help and offer it.

Pay attention when that still small voice says, “Slow down, don’t drive so fast.” Or, “let that person in line ahead of you.”

Pay attention to your significant other. Hear what they say and make sure you understand it correctly. Every day, tell someone you love them.

Pay attention to your own needs and the difference in how you feel when you take proper care of your body.

In other words, wake up to your world. Participate in it. Interact with others. Give of yourself. Care about each other and care about our planet.                

 

Copyright: Sylvia Dickey Smith

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