Thursday, October 23, 2008

Character Charts and other stuff . . .

As of last night . . .
  • Chapter Four Revamp - Complete
  • Word Count = 38,000 +

Yes, very brief and to the point. Last night was a juggling act of cooking dinner, writing, taking the boyz for their walk, finding time to read, and then settling down on the couch with the cats (Jordy and Squeaky - dear Tasmyn cannot be bothered to get up on the couch) to watch Pushing Daisies. I absolutely adore that show. Then, walk the boyz again after my tv watching was done, plot out what I was going to work on with the writing today, and finally snuggle beneath the covers and attempt to go to sleep. Did I mention that I'm not allowed to go to sleep before I pick Jordy up and put him in bed with me? Oh, and I have to let him lie down and my chest and rub his head for about ten minutes before he's had enough. It is only then that I am able to roll over, curl up in the fetal position, and attempt (I use that word very lightly - I do have three cats and two dogs after all) to fall asleep.

On a totally different subject . . . I was thinking about characters this morning. I read some article, message board, or some such recently that mentioned a character chart. Basically, you create a chart with the highlights - hair color, eye color, height, weight, etc. - of the various characters. I have done this a few times. The one warning in the article (or whatever) was not to overdo (get too in depth) with the character chart. I agree 100%. I do the basics, as mentioned above, and then go with the flow of the writing to add things as needed. Personally, I think it's important to have a good visual of your character in your mind, but not that important to fully visualize the character for the readers. Say What!!!????

Let me explain. When I'm reading a book I don't need every aspect of a character to know the character. Tell me the color of hair, eyes, weight, and I'll fill in the rest. Give me a few hints about what the character wears, not a complete description of the character's entire wardrobe. Again, I can fill in the blanks myself. That, my friends, is the joy of reading. I mean, really, how many books go through all the different clothes a character might wear? Very few. I've done my research. There's usually a brief mention at the start of the book, maybe another mention later on if the character is going to the theater or a fancy dinner; other than that, there is very little mention. Why? In my opinion, because the clothes are unnecessary. I mean, could I tell you what my co-worker wore to work the other day? No. Could I tell you what shirt I wore to work on Monday? No. Why? Because the clothes are not important. I could tell you that one of my co-workers was not feeling well on Tuesday and went home early. I could tell you that another co-worker received some bad news on Monday and was stressed out for most of the days. Those are the important things. Clothes, not so much.

In the end, yes, it's important to know if a character always orders chicken fajitas with extra sour cream when they go to the Mexican restuarant. It's also important to know that a character bites his/her lower lip when thinking. It might be important to know that a character absolutely adores - within context - everything Gregory Maguire every wrote, or will write. The importance of things about the character all depend on the writer.

So, make your chart - if necessary - but do not lose yourself in the chart, or limit who your character might become if he/she does something totally crazy outside the chart. One day, your stable, reliable, character who presses his jeans (yes, gets out the iron every Sunday and irons every frigging pair of jeans they plan on wearing for the week) might suddenly decide not to press his jeans. The world might not end, but your chart might suddenly become a little less important. I'm just saying . . .


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