It’s a girl…

Posted Oct 12 2010, 9:00 am in

Birthing a new character, I’ve learned, is a lot like birthing an actual baby. At this point in my life, I’ve created more characters than I have children, so bear with me while I connect the dots.

Sometimes, a character pops into my head fully-baked, tap dancing on my skull for his story to be told. Dan, the MC from SEND, is like this. All it took was one news story and poof! Dan was born. Others develop out of the plot idea that curls around my brain. Still others come from dreams, snippets of overhead conversations, even email chain letters.

A new character ‘spoke’ to me for the first time this week and it’s a girl. I know her name, what she looks like, what she wants to be. But not much more. I don’t even know if she has a story to tell yet.  These are the times when I wish I had an honest-to-God office. I’d hole up in there, paper the walls with ideas, lay it all out so I could see who she is, how she got that way, and what she plans to do next.

Sadly, I have no such space.  I make do with post-it notes and a 2′ x 3′ newsprint pad I store under my sofa when I’m not using it.  I’ve also found physical activity frees up my mind to simmer over a character. It quiets the rest of the noise and lets her speak. I know she’s beautiful, that she’s uncomfortable with those who see her as nothing else and that she’s unhappy. I don’t know why, at least, not exactly.

So, I think of this time as  a sort of character pregnancy. While Dan was dropped on my door step one day, this girl is still just a fetus and it’ll take some time before I knew exactly what her story is.  How do you develop your characters?

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