Listen to fiction writers describe how we work, and you’ll think we’re all Rokus — those small black boxes that sit on your entertainment center and stream programs from the internet to your TV. Most writers will say we sit at our keyboards and type chapters that flow through our heads like scenes in a movie. This sounds easy, but it isn’t. To get to that point takes hard work.
And after we’re done with all the plotting and dialogue, description and pace, our protagonists still need to live and breathe. For this to occur, we must know them well. Authors build their characters in many ways – we cut out pictures of interesting faces, write in-depth histories we’ll never use, poke through our characters’ pockets, their closets, their refrigerators, create lists of hobbies and musical tastes.
Often we come to know our characters better than ourselves, but even then, we aren’t done. There is one more step we must take. For our character and her story to become as vivid for the reader as they are for ourselves, we have to convince the reader to climb inside our protagonist’s head. Continue reading