Becoming a Character

Blog 76 imageHere’s another post under “Thoughts on Writing”.

Over the last four weeks, I’ve been receiving comments on the current draft of my third book. I have a lot of reason to be optimistic and a lot of work to do!

One thing that’s become clear is that, while I’ve nailed many characters, a few, including two key ones, need to develop further.

At first, I had rough ideas that one character should be more interesting, another stronger and a third fleshed out. However, I wanted to understand the nature and scope of these ideas before I started the book’s next draft. The alternative was to sort out the characterizations while rewriting, but I knew that would be inefficient.

So, here’s what I did, and it worked well enough to share with you.

I took a day for each character that needed work, and drafted letters and emails about the events leading up to the book pretending I was that character. For example, an email of one character begins this way.

“Dear X,

Many thanks for calling me after my first letter. We had such a good talk and I thought I’d done just as we decided. Talk to her. Communicate. Find out what she wants. But she left anyway.”

It was a fascinating process. With little prodding, each character gave me five or six letters and emails. I just had to step into that character’s shoes and imagine he/she had enough on his/her mind to want to share problems with a confidant. When I wrote the correspondence, the character, not I, was writing.

In other words, in each of those three days, I became one of the characters for a few hours. And I learned a lot living in their heads.

Now I just have to reflect it all in the book’s next draft!

Copyright © 2015 Peter Fritze

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