Month: May 2016

Interviewing Your Characters

Interviewing Your Characters

Upon inspiration of the essay by Tina Jens in ON WRITING HORROR, I have created a character sketch I am using much like an interview sheet. In my mind’s eye I invite my fictional characters into my office for an interview. So far it has worked like a charm. My questions are pretty much standard but the difference is it is not me who is answering the questions. They are.  My approach is that this is their story and I want to know them as I would an old friend from high school (per suggestion by Tina Jens.)

I had created a list of characters using my previous method of simply coming up with them as I wrote my new novel but the process was tedious and boring. Following Tina’s suggestions, I created a new character sketch to get to know my characters for who they are, separate from me. My protagonist, who I had previously named Sandy, was a middle aged woman and I had given her blond hair with gray streaks and gray eyes much like my own, was all wrong.

The woman who walked in my office was entirely different, even her name. She was younger, tougher with dark hair and eyes. Her entire persona is one of a lonely but self-assured widow on her own and looking for a change. While Sandy was also looking for a change she was married and more dependent upon her husband.

My second “interview” was with my evil, sadistic antagonist. I was nervous about the interview because this character was to be the epitome of evil complete with horrific appearance and behavior. The “man” who entered my office was again, very different. I found him compelling and alluring with a definite darker side concealed beneath his attractive appearance. At the same time, he was forthright with a definite sense of humor about the story that is to come.

I have four more interviews to do with my previous version of this story still in the back of my mind. What will become of this story? I have no idea. It’s truly in the hands of these fascinating new characters. One thing for certain, I won’t be bored!

Thanks for visiting my site. I would love to hear your thoughts…

Getting to Know Your Characters

Getting to Know Your Characters

Another tidbit from a few years back that has changed my writing life forever….

In between the required reading in ON WRITING HORROR, I’ve been studying the various essays by the gifted writers enclosed within its pages. The latest nugget of wisdom came from Tina Jens titled “Such Horrible People.” Ms. Jens describes characterization in such a creative and entertaining way that not only have I soaked up her insightful words, but I do believe they have changed the way I write forever.

Within her essay, Tina Jens describes getting to know your characters as well as you would your high school buddies. Their ins, their outs, their quirks, fears, flaws and successes. What makes them tick? Getting to know your characters so well that they are sitting there beside you writing your story for you. Your job as a writer is merely a stenographer, they are in control. After all it’s their story, right?

Yes, I’ve read lots of articles on developing characters but never in such a clear, open manner where it is not only practical, but brings the knowledge down from my gray matter to application. Thank you, Tina Jens, for such an intelligent and entertaining essay.

So to put into practice this new-to-me character-creation process, I’ve interviewed one of my main characters for my current work-in-progress. As it turns out she is nothing like the puppet I created. I got her name, hair color, age and even personality totally wrong. The character that arose from this interview is stronger, more dynamic and a complete improvement over what the puppet-master (me) had created.

Rather than feeling the pressure of creating this novel purely out of my own tedious, task-oriented agenda, I am excited to see what she and the other main characters will show me as their story unfolds. I have more interviews today. One I am particularly nervous about, my villain. He’s a dark, angry creature whose fiery home was recently disturbed. Wish me luck….I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you, Tina Jens and the Horror Writers Association…and to you, thanks for reading!

The Definition of Closure

The Definition of Closure

I just finished the first draft of The Gathering (working title) the horror novel I started writing before My Father’s Magic took over my life.

The story first came to me while living in an apartment in a small town south of Tucson. Our many walks around the complex were often interrupted by what I can only believe were ghosts. Patches of cold air to be followed by “things” hurrying up behind us, “things” only I could hear, and were not there when I turned to confront them.

The place was eerie with its long-filled lake bed, memorialized only by a small aqueduct and a group of resilient cat tails. Our apartment never ceased to give me a restless uneasiness, a feeling that something or someone was forever watching me.

I wrote the story in starts and stops over the years. Perhaps I was never ready to finish it, or maybe, the evil entity that pervades the story was not ready for his tale to be over… Either way, the first draft is now done; the last two characters in a cast of so many have now finished a journey that, for this writer, began seven years ago.

Hmm, it’s nice to finally know how the story ends…

When Writing…. A Good Rule of Thumb

When Writing…. A Good Rule of Thumb

When writing a story, you are your own best immediate gauge of how good it is. Does it excite you, hold your interest and keep you on edge? Are you emotionally invested in your story to the point of potential embarrassment?

If not, then you need to either change it or start over. If you don’t have an emotional reaction to your story, your readers won’t either.

Here is one of my favorite quotes, one I keep on the wall of my office, and what I try to live by when writing my stories…

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