Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog Chain - Walking in My Character's Shoes

To all of my blog buddies out there, I'm sorry I haven't posted much lately. If not for blog chain, I'd be floating in a sea of characters, with a filthy house and unfed family wondering where the months have gone. Which is why Cole's question this round is so appropriate:

How do you get inside your character's world?

I'm one of those types of people who can get so caught up in a day-dream that I'm pulling into my driveway before I've even realized I'd left the grocery store. Visualization isn't hard for me. When I'm writing, I tend to walk through every scene, taking on the character's speech and mannerisms in my imagination, walking in his or her shoes. Even throughout my day, I find myself wondering, "What would this character do right now in my situation? What would she say?" It helps me write believable dialog and reactions.

As far as my character's physical world... I've tried to write about places I haven't seen and it didn't come off as believable. So I tend to stick to locations close to home, cities I've visited, even the town I live in. But like Cole stated in her post, sometimes I need a little help. Even though I've been to Seattle, I don't know it like the back of my hand--and my character does. So I use Google Maps a lot, you can actually position the camera view right on the street. It's like you're standing right in the middle of a still-frame. I talk to people who are more familiar with the night-life or the local nuances. I pull up stock photos and stare, and stare, and stare.

For me, the beauty of writing (and reading for that matter) is the escapism. The exploration of taboos, experiences, emotions and lives so unlike the person I really am. Check out Kate's post before mine and Sandra's tomorrow to find out how they build their wonderful worlds!

16 comments:

Christine Fonseca said...

It sounds like you are working onsome fun things...Cool! I'll save my character development stuff for my post...
GREAT JOB!

Cole Gibsen said...

God bless the street view on Google Maps!

WindyA said...

What would we do without Google?

Eric said...

I completely understand the whole day-dreaming thing. I do it all the time, particularly when I'm driving (which should probably scare everyone else out there). Nice post though, and interesting view into your process.

Rebecca Knight said...

When I start writing in the real world, I've GOT to check out this "google maps" you speak of :P! Awesomeness!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

I second the blessing of street view :) It's a beautiful thing indeed :)

Sandra said...

We're so lucky to have the internet and tools like Google Maps to make the research easier.

Suzyhayze said...

This is informative... but also BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

xo
S

Elana Johnson said...

I love your last bit about having reading and writing be escapism. Maybe that's why I write about worlds that are close to ours, but not ours. It's too hard to get the "street view" just right in our real world.

Great post, Mandy!

K.M. Weiland said...

I'm a very visual person too. My stories play out like movies in my head (sometimes complete with soundtracks!), so the trick is putting all those visuals on the page in a way that convinces the reader he's seeing them too.

Sarah Bromley said...

Great post, chica! I think you were brilliant in how you brought Seattle (and the characters' other world) to life.

B.J. Anderson said...

Great process! And I'd be lost without google maps when it comes to researching my books. Great post. :D

Kat Harris said...

I like staying with the familiar, too, when it comes to setting. I doubt I'd ever set a complete story outside of the Midwest. I don't know that I could make it authentic.

Great post!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oh, I've never thought to use Google Maps that way - very cool, I may have to try that one day! And I know what you mean about the daydreaming while driving - sometimes I'm so lost in my head I'll drive right past where I'm supposed to be going!

CamrynMorrell said...

Thank you for letting me know about Google Maps. I've heard of it before but it never occurred to me to use it in my writing. :)

Great post. Writing is a great thing because it lets us do things we wouldn't even dream of doing in real life. It lets us be different people for a while.

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