August 24, 2012

What Would You Do?

A novel is a work of fiction. You can make the unimaginable happen and you can let your characters do the unthinkable.

If you are writing a fantasy or supernatural story, by all means let your imagination run wild, but you need to at least keep one foot grounded in reality. As I have mentioned before, you want your characters to be as realistic as possible, even if they are mythical.

Asking yourself, “What would I do?” will help you to stay authentic in your writing, instead of trying to figure out what someone else would do or say. It’ll also help your readers to believe the story you are telling.

When your main character is in a confrontation, consider what you would do if you were him/her. How would you react? What would you say? If necessary, you can do the opposite (What would I not do? How would I not react? What would I not say?), especially if your character is your polar. But make sure that your character isn’t doing something stupid just because it’s not what you’d do, like running upstairs (instead of outside) when there’s a killer in the house. lol

If your main character goes through something traumatic, try to imagine going through the same thing. How would you feel? How would you cope?

Use this technique for all of your characters. Actors have to embody the characters they play, especially a character who is dark and twisty. Writers can do the same thing. I do.

For the second book in my unpublished series, when my main character is stuck in a psychiatric ward, I put my mind into that situation to understand how she would feel, and when she was having a mental break down, I pretended that I was, too. At one point, I wrapped my arms around my body, rocked back and forth in a chair, and ticked my feet up and down as if I wanted to run. From my mouth, I was repeating, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know!” In one scene, my character is doing exactly that.

QUESTION: So, what would you do if you were in your characters shoes?

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