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Maria?

Now that I have that song stuck in your heads, no.  Using C.C. Cedras’ post last Saturday, on characters and character development, as a jumping off point, I thought I’d give you a little more insight into our unique process as the three of us continue to map out and actually write our book series. The “problem” I’m referring to is one that deals with the development of my MMC. We’ll call him Will. Oh, all right, that is his name.

writing meme, character development, astrology

He wasn’t always Will. He started out, many moons ago, with a different, dare I say “flashier”, name that fit the setting in which he was created, but not the one he now inhabits. Will is, of course, a shortened version of his very long full name, but it’s a strong name for what is still a strong personality.  What I’ve struggled with, at times, is the adaptation process. It wasn’t only his name that has changed in this new incarnation. His motivations and some of his circumstances have changed, so his reactions to these circumstances must change with them. He can’t be the same “person”. At least not entirely. He has to fit into the “real world”. Sometimes I struggle with what’s too much and what’s not enough – especially in terms of his softer side.

Excerpt from his biography:

A man of huge appetites (sexual and otherwise), smoker, whisky drinker who rarely shows the effects of alcohol. Former drug user. Arrogant enough to think that he’s always in control, but unshakably loyal and very generous to those who have earned his trust.  Coarse language provides camouflage for a quick mind and an innate, street-wise intelligence. Gruff exterior hides sentimental attachments to people and things. Good with his fists, but carries a Glock the way Linus carried a security blanket. Displays nervous energy under stress by tugging on his lower lip or bouncing a leg on the ball of his foot .

When developing a character, a writer can’t stop at expressive body language, accent or tone of voice,

writing, meme, body language

but also find a way to show why they make the decisions that they do. Creating a memorable and consistent character, especially one that has agency* requires experiencing many of the same emotions that the character experiences. In other words if you can’t feel it – no matter how you’ve described it to yourself or others – neither will your reader.

 

Conflicts:

External – ridding himself of his father’s shadow/influence; accepting responsibility for the livelihood of others in a legitimate enterprise; protecting xxxx from the baggage of his past…

Internal – feeling worthy of …love; …trust issues both stemming from {the rest is redacted – you’ll have to read the book(s)}

 
As we’ve already shared with you, we use a lot of different means to communicate with each other when we aren’t physically together, chief among them Google Hangouts. When we three are firing on all cylinders it’s a terrific tool.  Take, for instance, this conversation we had a few months ago about how to address “the Will problem”.

KR: “…let’s give him some way to grow. There are hints he goes off doing his own thing. What if he does know that they are planning this trip? There is a blow up. And he has his {expletive deleted} moment? But, he returns as they are packing and nuts it up?”

CC: “This is yours and {S.A.’s} call, but one good thing coming out of that scenario is to create some necessary conflict between W & F, W & K”

SA: “I like it. It would be essentially taking the first part of what happens in Chapter 40 and turning it into its own chapter someplace before this one. Then taking the rest of this chapter and expanding it.”

Now, even if you can’t entirely figure out what we’re talking about, the main point is that the three of us hashed it out together. We may have been discussing “my” character, but he doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He interacts with other characters and must do so in way that fits in with what we know of him as well as his relationships with those characters.

writing, character development, meme

Again, as C.C. mentioned last week, one of the best things about our process is that we hold each others’ feet to the fire. Three heads are better than one.

Thank you for taking time out of your Memorial Day Weekend to read this. I’ll be back on Monday to share my holiday prep (and maybe a recipe). In the meantime, we’d love to read your thoughts on our process, especially if you’re also a writer. Who or what do you rely on to help you “keep it real”?

 

*Jami Gold has a great explanation of what “agency” means in terms of character development on her blog.

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