Thursday, June 25, 2009

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

I've been kicking around a bunch of new concepts for a novel recently (eight, in fact) and my mind couldn't settle on just one. All eight seed ideas had to do with family drama and controversy, something I've been led to believe I write well. I'm not sure exactly what that says about me, but I'm running with it anyway.

I typically start with a character with whom I would like to spend a great deal of time. He or she can be complicated and flawed, but must posses something interesting. Problem was, all my MC ladies were in a huge catfight for my brainspace. The aging ex-Playboy bunny knocked the over-stressed ad exec and the rest of them on their asses for a while, but now she's taken a back seat. Maybe she'll have her day, but for now she's filed under "Brainstorming.doc."

My agent gave me some sage advice, and with her help, I think I've picked a winner. The plot's pretty much down, so now for my favorite part--fleshing the MC out. Love this. It's like getting to know a cool new roommate, but you have a say in who she is and won't get stuck with a clunker. I'm fanatical about getting to know my characters before I write anything. She has her own dossier and I'm forming her style. After she simmers for a few more days, I'll get going. Can't wait.

How do you get started on something new?


Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Fascinating how you get to know your characters before you start writing! I've got a few folks that follow me from one book to the next (or maybe I'm following them?), but whenever there are new characters, I get to know them as they step on stage and "take over." Have fun with your newest endeavor. I can't wait to hear more about it!

Melanie Hooyenga said...

Wendy, that's so exciting!

I've really only started two projects -- one the idea came to me and I started writing without really knowing where it was going (my current wip) and the other I outlined first. The writing was easier for the outlined MS, so I plan to do that in the future.

WendyCinNYC said...

Debbie--If I don't get to know my characters before I start, they all end up sounding like *me*. I like myself and all, but not *that* much.

Melanie--Outlining works for me, too.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I find it interesting how we write our characters or get to know them - I get to know mine as I write them . . . I'll have a vague notion of them and as I write the story or novel, they begin to take shape and form and I come to know them in a revealing.

Amy Sue Nathan said...

I write and learn about my characters at the same's the writing that develops them. In my brain alone they can only get so far!

You are very organized! I'm envious.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hope it's a long and happy relationship. :)

WendyCinNYC said...

Kathryn--That seems to be what a lot of people do. Mine do often change from the original plan.

Amy--I'm not always organized. At. All.

Angie--Thanks, me too!