Thursday, September 15, 2011

The People in My Head

My characters are the people who talk in my head. No, I don’t think I’m crazy. I have a little movie playing in my brain and those people acting in that movie are my characters. Basically, I just write down what I see, hear and feel. Those people are born (okay, created) to play that role. Most times, I learn about my story people as I write them. It surprises me, just as my readers, that the hero is a vampire! Well, okay, I might give that one away early, as in Sebastian’s case from The Witch and the Vampire. But, I didn’t know Lillian had a sister until she contacted her through her magic in The Witch and the Wolf. As soon as Melora appeared, I knew I had to tell her story, too.

Many authors I know create a character chart or conduct interviews with their story people to get a better understanding of who these people are and why they behave the way they do. I tried several times in the past to do this, but that method never worked for me. I found it too constricting. Perhaps it’s just that my story people like to rebel! But, now that I’ve started a series with The Merriweather Witches, I’ve found I need to keep track of their personalities and appearances. I’ve started an in-depth character chart for each of my characters. I’ve included details such as eye color, hair color, all the way through family history, likes and dislikes, and what sort undergarments they wear (don’t laugh, this is important when they’re undressing each other!). The trick with my method is I can’t fill in the chart until after I’ve finished their story. It makes it a little more difficult when plotting (especially if you’re not a panster!), but I feel like I know them better after the story is finished.

It’s sort of like if you meet someone for the first time at work. You see them every day, you know what they look like and how they appear, but you don’t really know them until you’ve spent some time with them, perhaps gone through a crisis or two together (why is the fax machine not working?, or worse, who spilled coffee on my notebook!?!). Then you begin to understand their little idiosyncrasies. You understand why they’re always late or always early, you find out about who they’re dating, if they’re married, do they have children, why they like to always wear blue. You must give them time to tell their story.

That’s how my characters and I operate.

Lillian Merriweather appeared in a snowy lane one day.

I was curious as to why she was there and where she was going. So, I followed her.

~Tricia Schneider worked at a bookstore for 12 years, 6 of those years as Assistant Manager. Now she writes full-time while raising her three young children. For more information visit her website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads or visit The Wild Rose Press to purchase her books.

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