Friday, December 3, 2010

Welcome Author Theresa Stillwagon

You need to know them!

Your characters, I mean.

Before you even think about beginning to write, you need to know the hero and heroine of your WIP. You need to know them inside and out, past and present. For me, I need to know everything about them from their names to their favorite color. The more you know about your characters; the easier it'll be to write their story.

How do I get to know my characters?

Every writer is different. I have a few different charts and a list of questions I ask my characters to answer. I usually have to do the in-depth stuff after I start writing, however. In the middle, when the plot starts to bog down, getting out the old list of questions works wonders for me. It's amazing what you find out when you allow your characters to speak for themselves. Knowing your characters this intimately adds another layer to your plot.

For my newest Whispers Publishing release, The Gift, I realized half-way through the story that my heroine (Dana) didn't really have a problem with my hero (Ben) being ten years younger than her at all. Her problems went deeper than that. Dana feels unsure if she'll be good enough to keep a man like Ben interested, period. You see her husband was never satisfied with their sex life, and (what I just found out) he was having an affair with a much younger woman. She didn't find out about this until months after his death. So she wondering, how can I think of satisfying this younger man if I couldn't even manage to keep my husband happy? I would've never known this if I hadn't asked her a bunch of questions when I got bog down.

Another good reason to write stuff down is to keep track of your character's description and background. You wouldn't want the heroine to have green eyes in the beginning of the book and gray at the end, or have the hero be thirty at the beginning and forty at the end, unless ten years have gone by. You wouldn't want a secondary character to be blind than suddenly wear glasses. Keeping track of people is especially important when writing a series of books with continuing characters.

You may not remember Rose was a blonde in book one but turned into a red-head in book three. But you can bet some reader will catch it.

You need to know your characters as well as you know yourself.

Theresa Stillwagon


Vijaya Schartz said...

Thanks for a great post, Theresa

Theresa Stillwagon said...

What a surprise, Vijaya. I was thinking my post would be here on the 6th.
No problem.
I'm glad you enjoyed it.

whisperyourfantasies said...

Excellent advice, Theresa. I liked the way you discovered through your heroine that she didn't really have a problem with her hero's age; but there were other things troubling her. It's always great when the character comes alive for us writers and shares their deepest desires with us. That's what makes writing truly great.