‘Becoming Your Characters’ by Mary Deal

Becoming Your Characters


Mary Deal

Several authors have asked why their characters do things they (the author) didn’t understand.

What I find is that you may know your character well, intellectually, as you have outlined in a character sketch or other notes. However, in order to understand the moves your character makes, you must BECOME that character.

In dialogue especially, stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself as if you are the character talking to you. Notice the facial expressions and physical gestures. Include those in your descriptions. When you feel you are that character, you will understand why they suddenly do something in the story that you hadn’t expected. When you are the character, you will cut loose from any restrictive thinking. This will help you to move the plot or writing through the narrative as well.

In other words, you as the character – what would you do in the situation you have set up? Being the character, what you would do if you wanted to cut loose and respond to a situation in a totally off the wall manner? See where this is going? When you are the character, you understand everything that character does. It frees your thinking to take your story in unexpected directions.

An added plus is that you can and should become any and all of your characters. Once you get in the habit of seeing your story this way, your writing is freed up.

You won’t see your characters as if in a state of unexpected flux.

You won’t see your characters as people other than yourself.

You will see and understand their motives and moves – and they will makes those moves – as totally normal to their personalities.

If you cannot, at least to a tiny degree, become your character, how can you know what they might do? You are the characters you create and you’ve only to respond in a manner apropos to each of the personalities you’ve built.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

About Mike Angley

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy. He retired as a Colonel from the Air Force in 2007 following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). He held 13 different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Air Force Squadrons and a Wing. He is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. In his last assignment, he was Commander of OSI Region 8 with responsibility for all of Air Force Space Command. He’s fond of saying, “If it entered or exited Earth’s atmosphere, I had a dog in the fight!”
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