Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Deep thoughts on Deep Thoughts

One of my critique partners asked a question yesterday that got me thinking. She wanted to know how you knew (as the author) when to put deep internal monologues into your story. I pondered, I questioned myself, and I hope I gave her a decent answer.

But then I got to wondering, How do you know when to go to deep thinking? Some of my favorite authors do this, and I wondered if any of you soon to be published authors do it. I am sure there is a different way for every writer, just as there are different writing styles.

My way: I get down the first draft and this ends up being more telling than showing. To me, the first draft is to tell me where I want the story to go. I will put a thinking segment in only if neccessary, to highlight how I want the scene to feel, and move on. When I am on the second draft, I switch my story to showing. I describe things, I put in the senses, and I go inside their heads. This was really hard for me at first. Remember, this is the first time I've stuck to one story line for longer than the next idea strikes me. I had to get to know these people I had invented. How to do it?

I love to scrapbook, and I play with my digital scrapbooking when stuck. Procrastination? Not really, it frees my mind and random thoughts come to me. As I was making a layout, I thought to myself, 'Scrapbooking would be something Mattie would have done.' Scrapbooking was really popular between 1880 to 1890, and my story is set in 1883. Mattie came from the East and I am sure she would have chronicled her trip West, and then the town she settled in. So I made a page done by Mattie. I found pictures of the models for my h/h, I made small diary entries for them, and I took quotes from my book. None of this will be in the book, of course, but it made them real to me. Two hours of playing, er I mean character development, and I KNEW these two characters.

When I went back to my WIP, their thoughts were so much clearer to me. I could see why Mattie would pick a fight with Cal for kissing her, I could see why Cal would get mad at her for doing so. I took out alot of unneccessary stuff (secondary characters that I was basically using for fillers) and started filling in the gaps with their thoughts. Mattie and Cal became real to me somehow through something I love to do. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have to do what I say.

So, what about all of you, how do you get to know your characters? Do you do character worksheets? Or do you take a more unconventional approach, like me?


Kelly Krysten said...

What a GREAT blog!!! This is something I question a lot. It's hard to know when to put in the deep thoughts. And I have thought a book has suffered, before, do to too much introspection. I love your scrap booking idea.
I wrote my WIP without fully knowing my hero, so now in my re-writing process everything is twice as hard. Plus the fact that I didn't know him all that well wound up meaning that my heroine needed to change a bit too. They have to be just right for each other. So recently I put down the WIP and picked up some notebook paper and I wrote out their GMC's. It was such an eye opener, and as I looked at who they were and what their inner motivators were, as well as external motivators, I had this really exhilerating moment where I said out loud" Now, that's conflict!". LOL! So, that's why your scrap booking makes so much since to me. I'm very visual. I have to map out everything in front of me.
Congrats on your idea. Really really great blog!

Gillian said...

Kelly's right, this is brilliant, and you know, I never knew scrapbooking was popular back then.

Thanks for the excellent info, Terry Jo! :)