Monday, September 10, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Who's that shady character?

Now that I've established COURTING CUPID would be character driven, I needed to flesh out my divorced heroine and my laid-back hero.

To do this, I came up with 4 adjectives that would describe each of them:

HEROINE: headstrong, tenacious, prickly, cynical

HERO: confident, laid-back, protective, romantic

For me, this instantly evoked an image of both characters and I proceeded to match my image of the hero and heroine to pictures. As you can see, I think the pictures give off the vibe of my description too.

Sandra Bullock was the perfect choice for my headstrong heroine and Matthew Fox the laid-back hero.

I will use these pics to encapsulate what my characters are like at a glance, so as I'm writing I can take a quick look at them to get a feel for their personalities. While finding these pics, I saved loads more and there are a few of Matthew Fox which showed my hero EXACTLY as a I pictured him (on a beach, with business shirt sleeves rolled up, loosened tie-my hero is a workaholic after a sea change) but more on this when I show you the collage.

So now that I have the basics, it's time to flesh out even more. To do this I've tried a new method for me, the character interview. This involves sitting down with a piece of paper and a list of questions and doing exactly that: interviewing your characters. Discovering their greatest fear, worst thing that could happen to them, the single event that would throw their life into turmoil, etc...

I did a fair amount of research on the Internet for characterisation and made a compilation of resources I now refer to. Well worth the time invested as you get many authors' viewpoints on this broad subject. And you get to gather the info you think will be most relevant to you.
Some people use character charts (I used to when I first started writing), some people delve into the elaborate world of their characters' psyche. My advice would be find the method that works for you.
Though the character interview seems like a lot of work at the start, I'm finding it helpful to refer back to any time I need to get a handle on my characters' motivations. And to up the ante.

Next up, the names.
Which is another topic in itself for tomorrow!


Natasha said...

I'm not sure one could ever go wrong with Matthew Fox as a hero - particularly with his sleeves rolled up.

Now naming I do think is tricky. Not only does it have to work for you, not too distracting when used umpteen times as a speech tag, it also reflects hugely on the character's parents'. By the time you've named your character you've already made all kinds of choices about what sort of person they are.

Mary Blake said...

I'm really enjoying your Cover to Cover series. My WIP is character-driven, and I plan to give the character interview method a try. I've already done character sheets and a collage, but I need to move even deeper into their heads before my story can progress further.

Looking forward to your ideas on naming.


Nicola Marsh said...

you're so right about the naming affecting everything!

Mary, good luck with the interviews. Let me know how you get on.