Coffee Break 19 - and Post 300
I was trying to explain recently what the Novel Race was and I began by talking about the Coffee Break - and then realised that actually, this session is more like WeightWatchers in reverse, as we declare our weekly GAINS. Of course, unlike WeightWatchers, there's no objective weigh-in, but we're all far too honest to fib, aren't we?
The bookshelf rearrangement is a work-in-progress, mainly hampered by my discovery of books I haven't read in ages. Have been re-reading Mavis Cheek's Janice Gentle Gets Sexy, which is tremendous fun for anyone with writing aspirations or an interest in publishing, and has an interesting structure.
Now, characters! Liz asked whether I have a set questionnaire for interrogating my characters and I have just been developing one. Some of the questions come from my current fave writing book, the Billy Mernit Writing the Romantic Comedy one, which I've blogged about before. And some I just made up. But here are a few of the questions:
Objective view of appearance/lookalike:
Describe yourself physically (are you attractive? In what way? What do you wear?)
What’s your philosophy? (attitude towards life, belief system)
Talk about family (parents, grandparents, kids, siblings)
How do you respond emotionally to crisis?
What are your quirks and contradictions?
Do you have any special talents?
What do you need? (conscious/unconscious)
What do you fear most?
What are the best and worst things you’ve ever done?
What do you need to learn? What is your journey? (the character may not know – author must)
It's still a work-in-progress, in that some of the questions seem a touch repetitive to me. I write it in the 1st person, which also helps me to get the voice. I had coffee with a writer friend yesterday who said he thinks it sounds exhausting and too much like hard work, but as I am writing two books a year, I feel it'll save me some time. I particularly want to work through the areas of conflict with the other characters at an early stage, to up the drama: so one person may respond to a crisis in a way that puts them in direct opposition to another, for example.
What do you do to develop your characters? Or do you prefer to get to know them as you go along?
Oh, we have two new novel racers, David (or DOT) and Rowan (who has set up a brand new blog to join us). Do welcome them to the club!