To Give Them Life, Get to Know Your Characters

People act and react in accordance with a hidden set of rules that are unique to each one of us.  Our own sort of hierarchy of priorities.  Far more complex than a simple set of physical drives that need fulfilling in order of urgency we act emotionally, spiritually and intellectually in addition to the physical.  People can be very hard to figure out but so long as they are of relatively sound mind they can usually be understood if you can get to their core motivations.  Start with yourself.  What did I do today?  Why did I do that instead of something else?  It’s okay for the answers to seem obvious, you are you after all.

We need to craft characters who are just as complex as real people so that even when they surprise and confound us it further reveals their inner motives.  Continue reading

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Consistent Motivations Make Fake People Real

https://rjvchristensen.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/octopus-reading2.jpgReaders can be a fickle bunch.  They will believe whatever an author says about the story unless their suspension of disbelief is strained too far.  We have to respect readers because of what they bring to the story even while we’re manipulating their emotions in order to make the story impactful for them.  The writing is really only one half of the endeavor.
We writers need an audience to take our characters and bring them to life in their imaginations.  The reader is willing to take our story and believe it emotionally, if only while they’re reading, unless they hit a snag.  Continue reading

Setting the Scene, Mood lighting for your story

Beach

It was one January morning, very early—a pinching, frosty morning—the cove all grey with hoar-frost, the ripple lapping softly on the stones, the sun still low and only touching the hilltops and shining far to seaward.” ~Stevenson, Robert Louis. “Chapter II Black Dog Appears and Disappears.” Treasure Island.

Just like that the scene is set.  The bitter cold, the ghostly coloration of the landscape and dim light described here in Stevenson’s classic tale of adventure have set an emotional tenor of uneasiness and foreboding that will spark with dark fire once it strikes against the devious characterization of Black Dog shortly after in the chapter.

This is a literary technique where writer’s use emotional symbolism often drawn from nature (i.e. light and shadow, the weather, etc.) to impart emotional connotations to the scene(s) that follow.  Sometimes called setting the mood, it is important to consider what the scene is doing for the emotional setting as well as the physical setting.  Continue reading