It's blog chain time again!
This round's topic is brought to you by the character-driven Cole who asked:
How do you get inside your character's world?
Apparently, Cole actually stalks her characters, google maps their haunts, etc, to get to know them. This got me thinking about my own process.
How the hell did I first meet my characters?
How did I know what they looked like? How they thought? What their strengths and weaknesses are?
To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure. They just sort of showed up in my brain like strangers knocking on my door. For example, in my head I have a picture of Astrid and a picture of Torin from LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS in mind from the start. I don't know where they came from, but I knew that Astrid was an 18 year old girl with long dark hair and deep blue eyes, and Torin was a 19 year old boy with dark hair that stuck up in weird angles.
This is seriously the first I knew about them, and I had to figure it out from there. It really was like I saw strangers in a cafe, thought they were interesting, and then tried to get to know them from afar. The first thing I do is try to google for images that are close to what I have in my brain. I feel like if I can give my characters a physical form (at least in my own head), I'll be able to hold onto them long enough to figure out what makes them tick.
So, I googled.
For Astrid, I came up with this picture of Kate Beckinsale, only in my head she's younger, and has longer hair. For Torin, a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal was the closest I could find. From there, I spent time with them in my head and felt out how they talked, if they were quiet or loud or shy or obnoxious, and then checked in with them at random intervals throughout the story to see how they would react to different situations. For each scene I thought "what is driving them?" and then basic questions like "what would Torin do? How would he feel here?"
Being a woman writing a male character, I also had times where I checked in with my Resident Man Expert: AKA, my husband. For example, I had Torin crying over something and it didn't feel right. I asked my Resident Man Expert what a guy would do in that situation. His answer? Punch something! That explains why crying doesn't seem like a good choice here :)! Torin wouldn't cry, dangit, he'd punch the rock until his knuckles bled! (needless to say, my R.M.E. was extremely helpful. I highly recommend getting one if you don't have one already, or a Resident Lady Expert if you are a dude.)
I admit it's kind of weird that my characters show up in my head before I get to know them. I'm not sure how this works. For my new WIP, HOLLOW LAND, I knew that the main character had short, dyed fire engine red hair... but when I tried to name her she basically told me her name was Davida, and the name I'd chosen for her was nickname. Then she told me she's Jewish. Jewish? Great! Now, I'm going to have to research!
Sometimes these characters turn out to be more high maintenance than I bargained for, but who am I to complain? They are who they are.
Okay, now I'm worried that this post makes me sound insane.
How the heck do YOU come up with your characters? How do you get into their heads? Do you meet them first like I do and then let them unfold, or do you have a system I need to know about?
Don't miss the fabulous Kate tomorrow!