A blog about writing and all things story…
Today I’d like to welcome author, Paddy Eger as my guest blogger who is sharing her insights in
Details, Details, Details: Bringing a Character to Life
I love a book with strong characters who are characters, ones we get to know up close and personal through the little details in their lives. That includes sweet ladies who wear hiking boots with their fancy skirts, burly guys who read romance novels, and a dancer who carries around a pouch of polished stones.
Breathing life into a character requires an author do more than supply a name, provide a physical description and give the character a distinctive voice. It’s the little details that encourage us, as readers, to step into their shoes, literally.
During an evening writing class at the U of W last year, I participated in activities to aid writers in adding depth to a character. The instructor handed out props: a doctor’s jacket, a flagger vest, a football jersey, a flannel shirt, a shawl, and a chef’s coat.
We were instructed to walk around wearing one of the items to understand how it felt. Was it bulky or comfortable? Were there pockets? If so, where? What would the pockets hold and why? Did we feel like ourselves or did we begin to understand the limits the items created for our character? For example: What if a football player is practicing and receives an important, private note, where would he place it for safe keeping? How about the grandmother wearing a shawl? She also has no pocket. Where would she place her reading glasses when she hurries to answer the phone?
This activity could be done with hats, glasses, the person’s wallet or purse, or any commonly used item. By stepping into the character’s life and attempting to use an item the character uses or handles, we begin to understand how the character interacts within her environment. Try it out. Not only is it a fun exercise, it also provides ideas for details you might not have thought to include.
Author of a YA ballet trilogy: 84Ribbons (book one- available) , When the Music Stops—Dance On, releasing fall, 2015, and Letters to Follow—A Dancers’ Adventure to be released in 2016.
THANKS for guest blogging, PADDY!
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