… and we’re back!
Okay, so I have been reading quite a bit recently about writing books. I know I mentioned in an earlier post how a writer should always keep learning and that books on the craft are a great way to do so.
Well here is one of the best ideas I have learned.
Sounds crazy. Well maybe not to you, but it did to me.
Write a journal entry for each of your major characters.
Crazy right? Actually, no.
A lot of authors get discouraged at their inability to find an agent or a publisher (if they are going the direct to publish route). They have no idea why their book(s) fail to engage someone else.
Has this happened to you? Don’t despair. I may have the reason right here, and if not in this post hopefully in one of the ones coming up in this series.
Many, many, many times, a writer makes their characters (especially their antagonist) too one-dimensional.
Makes sense if you think about it, though. I mean, the bad guy is supposed to be really bad, right?
Well yes, and no.
Agents and readers want an antagonist who is bad/evil/manipulative/etc, but he/she/it has to also be well-rounded. In other words, the character needs to live and breathe, have flesh.
The journal. It has helped me get deeper into my characters’ heads than anything else.
For instance, my bad guy is pretty bad. He wants to do a blood sacrifice on a child. He is evil, manipulative, larger than life.
He also had a very messed up life before the thing which changed him into a thing. (that is as specific as I am going with that, so deal with it!) 🙂
I had no idea before I wrote his journal that he had a wife who killed herself after their daughter died, or that he was blamed for a number of things out of his control, or that the reason he went to the place that changed him was to get spiritual guidance to take back with him to his people.
Wow. I really didn’t know my antagonist at all!
The journal helps.
One thing that I do is to use a different font for each character. I go through Microsoft’s fonts in Word and find the one that looks like the character’s writing. Then I just write away (*grin*) in that character’s perspective about his or her life up until the moment the story takes place. I suppose you could do it for the whole story too, but that is enough for me to know my character and understand what motivates him.
Will you put this journal in your story? No.
Will you use everything you learned about your character in the story (i.e. that his wife died)? probably not.
This is a tool for you, as the writer, to get to know your characters. Afterward you can see how they would react to certain situations because you know their deeper motivations.
So, what are you waiting for? Write those journals!