Saturday, November 21, 2015

Building Characters: Finding My Inspirational Mojo

Posted by: Danube Adele
 
Sometimes my brain goes on hiatus.

When I was a little girl, everything was very magical and seemed to happen automatically without having to give it much thought. I slept in my comfy bed, in my toy-laden room in a lovely little neighborhood. It was a care free time of non-directed play and endless fun when creative thoughts, wonderings and ideas bloomed in a state of perpetual spring. So what the heck happened? I'll tell you. Life.

I grew up and found myself inundated with responsibility. All that free space available in my mind as a happy-go-lucky kid became filled with giving homework help, maintaining soccer schedules, harassing children over piano practice and trying to figure out what to cook a week in advance that will accommodate everyone's work practices. Then there's the sick dog, monthly bills, a car that seems to be acting up every other week, taunting me I'm convinced, and house chores that just won't do themselves. I'm telling you, I refuse to be that family that ends up contracting some strange bacterial infection that comes from lack of cleanliness. Then I'm looking around wondering why it's already dark. So what do I do when I have a million and one things to think about besides the fun of writing when I'm finally sitting in front of my computer ready to start creating? I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

One of my favorite ways to get my creative juices flowing is music. What songs represent my characters? "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman has been excellent for overall theme of a character's struggle. Listening to the lyrics, I can sit back, close my eyes and let my imagination create the image that matches what the song makes me feel. Who is that girl? Why is she so completely down on her luck? Then I might listen to "Run Around" by Blues Traveler when I'm looking for a lighthearted tone that can create comic relief in a scene. Different songs can help give structure to an entire chapter. "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by R.E.M. is one of those songs in a new book I'm writing, a sci-fi romance. "Take Me To Church" by Hozier is a song that helped to form the emotional background of one of my male characters in Book 4 of the Dreamwalkers series. But wait...there's more.

Giving my characters a chance to rant is another way I work to build who they are. If I'm watching a television program or the news, I test myself to see how well I know my characters. I ask myself, how would they feel about what they just watched and why? This is purely an exercise and likely not going to end up in any of the story, but it helps to know how a character views the world. We're all shaped by the way we judge what is happening in our world, which in turn, tells us how to behave. Someone who is appreciative of the environment might be angered when they see someone throwing a cigarette on the ground in a careless manner, as an example. And still, there are times when getting started is really hard.

A final way of stirring the creative pot is to make sure I've figured out all aspects of a character's background, which means sitting my but down and figuring it all out. Often, when I'm stuck for ideas, it's because I haven't taken the time to really do my homework. Free time is so precious, a true rare commodity, that I just want to get to the writing. The result? Frustration. What I write is just sucky - a technical term - and it inevitably ends up getting cut. Instead, if I create a graphic organizer that lets me explore in depth how my characters feel about family, work, politics, religion, their dating background, etc., then I know how they will react in a given situation. At that point, the story can more easily unfold with not so many glitches - another technical term.

Thanks so much for stopping by. How do you get your creative juices flowing? If you're in the mood for a sexy, paranormal/sci-fi series, check out my Dreamwalkers series. It's a hot way to spend a chilly, fall evening.                                                                                                                                

 

Carina Amazon BN
 

Carina Amazon BN
Carina Amazon BN




 
 
 
 
 

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