Sunday, March 20, 2011

Respecting your characters

I don't give a shit about most of my characters. I torture and eat their babies. I give them horrible ironic deaths. I put them in impossible situations just to push their moral boundaries. I do this because their pain amuses me. They are my play-things and I have no respect for them. 

Which is becoming a problem...

I'm writing a novel now...and dammit...I actually have to give a crap about my main character. As a short story writer, I didn't have to invest much time and energy into my characters' personalities and backstories. None of that mattered to me. They weren't really "people." Just dolls to play with when I was bored. And as you know, my attention span is that of a gnat's. 

But a novel is completely different. You have to know your characters. Like really, KNOW them. Care for them, even. I have to think of my characters as friends or at least as "people." I have to throw myself entirely into their world and leave my own life behind. It's an engrossing process that takes time and diligence. 

Can I close my eyes and visualize this person? How should they talk? What motivates them? Is this character behaving authentically? And would I talk to this person in real life? 

When I'm bored, I can't just kill them off or randomly set their families on fire. That's immature and far too easy. They are alive in their stories, waiting for me to direct them to their climax and resolution. 

So in a way, I am their goddess...and as such, it is my responsibility to carry it through to the end. *sigh* 


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