Keeping your characters straight
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
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Keeping your characters straight

It has been a crazy week! After the march on Monday I was kind of down for a while. I had to take a couple of days off of work to recuperate. I think I'm going to start wearing hats all the time now, because I got the worst sunburn on my head that I have had since living in Gunnison Colorado. I got 3 degree burns on my forehead and nose. But the odd thing was that instead of just blistering my forehead actually grew. The entire thing puffed up and felt like a huge bruise. It was very painful and quite frightening. It's all back to normal now, just some ordinary peeling. But I learned my lesson, my skin just cant take it anymore.
I suppose that having a head like a creature from Star Trek is a good reason not to keep up with the blog, but still I felt guilty and yet at the same time I just couldnt keep a single coherant thought in my head for days. I'm back to my old self now and my book is nearly finished. It's hard sometimes not to write about my characters. People ask me how I come up with all the scenarios and plots and how do I keep all of the people straight. In truth I once asked the same questions until I started writing.
To keep your characters straight you make notes. Personally I dont need to make too many notes except for their names, because there are so many characters and sometimes I write a little note about their relation or relationship with others, kind of like a family tree. And you never throw that stuff away because you never know when you are going to want to revisit those characters or that story. The Veteran of the Silent War book is a perfect example of that very thing. When I wrote it the cast of characters was very small. My notes consisted of a list of names and a timeline for Cali growing up. I had to keep track of what happened to her at what age. But when I was done with the book I just filed the notes, and it was a good thing that I did because fans of the book asked for more. They wanted to know what happened to Cali when she grew up, or if she grew up all the way. Had I thrown away my notes, as sparse as they were, my second book would have been made much more difficult.
As far as coming up with scenarios... that's not as easy to explain. I actually see my characters and my stories in my mind. I think that I have described to you that my muse gives me inspiration by way of dreams. I can see the story, in an abreviated form play out almost like a dream, but more more vivid. Most people see it as having a great imagination.
Now when it comes to plots, I try to keep it as realistic as I can. After all people are people. It's not going to matter if they are in a future world where aliens are attacking and everything looks like things are coming to an end. People will still be who they are and they will stil interact with each other in similar ways. At the same time I dont want to simply tell the same story with a different background. People are multi facited and circumstances do affect their decision making process. So although people will be people they may yet surprise you when least expected. When I say surprise, I dont mean that the mild mannered one will turn out to be a beast, that's been done and done, I mean that a character that you thought that you understood will suddenly not be that person or they will have been hiding a secret that is a game changer.
I admit that with so many talented authors out there today and the plethora of ways in which to publish, the variety of plots and scenarios is becoming more complex. The simple stuff has been done, just ask Hollywood. Its the new stuff that needs to be told, or the old stuff in a more complex and engaging manner.
Be good to each other.

2 Comments to Keeping your characters straight:

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