Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Walking with my character . . .

So last night I partook in a very interesting exercise. And I don't mean I did tai-chi, I'm talking about writing here. I've been reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, a book on how to write. Thus far it has been very interesting and helpful. Yesterday, she taught me that before anything else, I must get to know my characters. Once I know who they are and what they stand for, the plot will flow accordingly. Thus, I decided to stop writing as though the plot were important and wrote as though I were interviewing my main character. Well, first he walked me home and we chatted as we went, and then I interviewed him from my living room. He was fascinating and very insightful. (Oh yeah, I've gone back to my old novs. I missed it too much to stay away).

Okay. I am a daydreamer. I love to live in an alternate reality. At any given moment, I probably have some story twiddling in my mind. As I walk down the street, ride the el, sing B-I-N-G-O, watch a movie, play a game, eat dinner — you name it — I probably have some sort of story playing out like a movie behind my irises. I may be a dancer on SYTYCD, a famous actress, or perhaps I have telekinesis.

Though I would never claim to have a.d.d, I do have the tendency to let my mind wander, or rather the fantastic ability. I still recall Stephenie Meyer talking on Oprah about how she thought this was normal, but really it isn’t. And well hey people, she wrote Twilight. I’m just saying, the similarities between us are pretty evident. Anywho, my mind wanders, and well, my mind doesn’t really wander very far all of the time. Often it creates sub-stories to life, either my own life or stories I have heard or watched.

For example: While reading Harry Potter, I felt like the story needed a little more dangerous romance. Thus, I decided that Professor Grubbly-plank — professor of herbology in the fifth book — had to become a romantic love interest of Sirius Black. She was also the niece of Fudge and Harry’s godmother. Anyway, I can’t really remember how her character fit in exactly, but while most people claim the fifth book is slightly boring, my version is very entertaining.

Anyway, this ability of mine seems to falter when the characters I envision become characters I try to write. And I forget the clever lines they have and the exciting adventures they go on. But last night, I took a step back and invited my character into my life. And now here he is, following me around. I am his writer and we are working together to make his story the best it can be. After we have gotten to know one another sufficiently, I will invite another character in. From there the story will stop rolling like a lone bowling ball down the lane, just hoping it will knock the pins down, but like a whole bunch of bowling balls traveling down the lane all in sync. With the impact of all of them, there is no way a pin could stay standing.

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