One thing I've heard mentioned frequently is knowing your characters. It seems obvious, and at first glance you think, "Well duh, I dreamed up these characters...of course I know them!"
But do you??? I don't know. I thought I knew mine, but I did a little exercize with myself and found I might have some work to do. No, I KNOW I have some work to do. However, I enjoyed this exercise and I'm particularly proud because I came up with it myself. *pats back*
So yesterday my boys went back to school (insert happy dance) and they both came home with an identical assignment. They were both titled The About Me Bag. Here is what it involves.
Pick 3 items to put into the bag that you can present to the class. These items must tell us something about you.
|This is a random google image kid, not my child! Although he is a cutie!|
So, obviously we went around finding photos of them with their brothers (I have 2 brothers), Darth Vader Lego minifigures ( I love Lego's and Star Wars), a Photo of Abe Lincoln (I love learning about history...my 8 year old is the bomb.com!) and other things that a little boy would show to represent his precious little life.
Of course one of my children asked me, "What would you put in your bag mom? A camera?"
"Hmmmmm. Probably something related to my photography, a picture of my beautiful family, and a book." I said.
They seemed pleased with this answer. All of those items fit me perfectly. I think even my husband would have chosen those three items for me. They clearly show who I am.
Well, the writer in me started thinking about my....duh, writing. (As us writers always do) So I started to wonder what my main characters would have in their bags. Here is the scary part. I wasn't really SURE!! *GASP* How is that possible?? I could maybe pick one or two items. Maybe. But overall, I realized that I couldn't pinpoint it exactly.
Ummmm, I think we should know our characters that well...no?! So my mission is to figure out what my characters 3 items would be in their About Me Bag. Let's take it a stop further...what will be in their About Me Bag at the END of the story?! *Insert dramatic oooooohhhh and awwwwww*
If were writing a good story, I don't really think their About Me Bag should look the same by the end of the book, know what I mean?? Take this yet another step further. Imagine your character presenting them to the class. (This is especially easy if you write YA...if not, just pretend!) Who is watching? Are they nervous or confident? Do they not put what they really want to in their bag because they are embarssed? Is the bitchy antagonist in the back of the class making fun of them? What was in that girls bag??
Point is, you can really work this idea to come up with a really clear picture of who your character is. I highly suggest it...or please share what you do to explore your characters!!