It’s my day off, and I’m currently spending it waiting, quite anxiously, for my car to be inspected. My default mindset is that the mechanic will no doubt find at least ten somethings wrong with my little black Toyota Corolla. At least five of those things will be problems of a cataclysmic order, which will require special parts to be shipped in from overseas or across galaxies, and they will be very expensive and time-consuming to fix.
Maybe I’m being a little ridiculous. Only a little.
The walk back from the garage was nice. Here are some fun observations I made, and general thoughts I had, between dropping my car off and getting home.
- Hm. Was it supposed to rain today? Shit. I should’ve checked the weather.
- The buildings in Hollidaysburg are really charming.
- I hope I didn’t forget anything important for the inspection. Did I tell them I’m going on a trip in August? Yeah, I think so.
- Shit. It’s starting to rain.
- When did my house get so damn far away?
- The obvious joke to make is how I’m perfectly in shape, except that the shape in question is a pear. Or a hippopotamus, if they can be considered a shape.
- Thanks, guy who parked right on the crosswalk. Very helpful of you.
- Better call Brianne, because someone made me leave my house key on my car keys. What an asshole.
There were other thoughts and observations, too, but my trip back home from dropping my car off isn’t t0day’s focus (though it might as well be with how much time I devoted to it).
Day Seven – Getting into Your Characters’ Heads
Getting into the mindset of a character, while thankfully not brain surgery, isn’t always the easiest task. While their writer is their creator, and really should know everything there is to know about them (if you’re not aware of every character, down to their shoe size, you’re obviously doing something wrong, maybe), it’s not always easy to get acquainted with all of the little people wandering around a writer’s headspace. This is me pretending to be a subject matter expert on such things, so keep that in mind.
A good few of my characters end up being distant copies of people I know, or odd amalgams of several people I know, and those are the ones I find easiest to figure out. They usually pop into my head mostly-formed, and ready for action, with clear dreams and hopes, personality quirks and specific looks, and so on. If I listen carefully enough, I can hear how they’d probably talk for the dialogue I’ll be writing. Easy stuff.
The characters that challenge me sit neatly at opposite ends of the character building spectrum. On one side, I’ve got the characters who I barely know, having conveniently or inconveniently appeared amidst the others in a puff of smoke and devoid of any information. They start off as blobs of potential, and are gradually molded and shaped into something I can use, usually. Or, in the worse scenarios, they are sent off to the waiting room where characters sit until I find a use for them. They don’t always cooperate, and usually are the ones who end up being some of my more complex characters (or, I’d like to think they’re complex).
Characters at the opposite end of the spectrum are ones who pop into existence so fully-developed that they only register as the low-hanging fruit for writing in my mind. They must have been somewhere before, I fear. They’re probably sad facsimile copies of characters in another story. Those, and similar thoughts, cross my mind. I’ve interrogated plenty of characters to figure out if they’re a little too much of something I’ve already seen before, or perhaps just something that waited until what may be the right moment to reveal themselves for use.
One of my favorite aspects of writing different characters is figuring out what their voices will sound like. There will always end up being characters who echo my smartass sense of humor, in all likelihood, but it’s even more fun to write ones who deviate from my speech patterns. The transition from still hearing overt notes of Phil Gorski to each character speaking for himself or herself is a fun one, even if there ultimately is a hint of my voice in there (microscopic as it may be).
A lot of the characters I have written just happen very conveniently, however, and for that I’m grateful, as I’ve also encountered a good few times when they just don’t seem to want to make their way to the pages. Those characters require a bit more persuasion.
In hindsight, I suppose it’d be pretty to read all of this as a commentary on all of the little people living in my head (walking around, talking, interacting, and so on). Take that as you will. Ninety-three days remaining.