These are some of my characters. Not all. Some. And as you can see they’re all male. I have another set of lovely and not so lovely females, yet to be drawn by the talented Mirriam Neal. But this grouping always makes me smile. Especially the fellow there on the end. In fact, I’ve recently had someone ask me “How is Valentine?” to which I promptly responded “Annoyed. I’m not working on his story at the moment so jabber-jaw has run off. If you see him, tell him to send me a postcard.”
To a non writer, this sounds like I am a few fruitloops short of a bowl of cereal, the elevator doesn’t make it to the top of the building, the lights they are on but no one is home. When I say this however, to someone I’ve shared my writing with, someone who knows my characters, all of a sudden, it isn’t so crazy. For a warm moment, someone has believed in my story enough to inquire after a character that they really liked. For a moment, both that paper tiger, and I, have a fan. It’s a fun feeling and a bit surreal at the same time.
The first time a friend of mine referred to her characters as people I was a bit taken aback. I thought exactly what any eavesdropper would think, this person is few bricks shy of a load. But as they talked, I began to see their character in my mind’s eye, to catch the way the character would tilt there head or flick their hair as their creator mimed them. What really amazed me was the amount of detail that their paper tiger had. They could tell me what the character’s favorite colors were, how they would react in a given situation, and whether they could sing or not. They had spent hour upon our crafting, molding, and creating this story person.
Mine were by comparison, shallow and abrupt. Slowly, I learned that not ever word written down has to move the story forward. There’s no rush to get the tale onto paper when you haven’t sold it yet. It’s all right to spend time building story people, finding out how they think, working out how they would respond to an incident. In fact, if you do that, readers are much more likely to care about your character.
And after all, that’s what you want as a writer. You want your readers to get caught up and invested in your characters.
I’m very grateful for my writing world-builder friends. They’re the ones that will ask me “Does Valentine like grilled cheese sandwiches?”* Or “Hey, how does Capp shave?”** Or “If Valentine was in a convenience store and it was being robbed, what would he do?”*** And because I have been pressed and encouraged into digging more into my character I actually have answers for them. I think that my eventual readers owe them a debt of gratitude too. After all, it’s because of these writers, these world builders who demand attention to detail, that my characters are the kind they will care about.
I did want to REMIND anyone who was thinking about taking Mirriam Neal up on her offer of crazy pricing on her art, it is now March the 3rd. You procrastinators only have 7 days left of this amazingly generous sale. Don’t miss out on it. Really don’t. That is all.
*He’d tell you “Very Carefully” but the answer is “With a straight razor”
***He’d try and be a distraction until the authorities arrived
Don’t know what I was talking about, about art sale?