Thursday, March 29, 2012

Write Who You Are

by T.J. Bronley

Hi! Guess what, this is two weeks in a row that I've blogged now. You should all feel honored. And if not . . . doesn't much matter.

I titled today's post "Write Who You Are". What do I mean by that? Well, I'm gonna tell ya, just hold your horses.

Before I get into this, I must announce that not only am I a word nerd, I'm also an numbers nerd. With that . . .

I believe that we are the sumation of all our previous experiences. Some experiences added to a personality trait of ours, while others may have subtracted a piece from us so that it has a lower percentage on who we are. Example, if I have a really humbling experiences about my finances, I may not be so cavalier at spending.

Our characters are the same way. Each of them has had a life of experiences before they enter our book. For me, the more crucial to the plot, the more important it is to know that character's formula leading up to their role in the book.

One of the things that makes me feel like an author is being authentic with me, is when he/she puts a piece of him/herself into the characters being written. For me, it is the most honest writing because, even if writing in a speculative genre, it is still possible to place recognizable personality traits in the character.

Let's say I'm writing a story about an accountant who befriends a teenager caught up in a murder mystery. What about me can I use to make these characters feel real? Well, I'm an accountant. I know a lot of jargon and lingo and so forth that I could put it in the book. Was I ever caught up in a murder mystery? No. But I can use all the ones I've watched (Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Perry Mason, and Matlock) and read (mostly Agatha Christie, but I've read a Josi Kilpack book) to influence how the mystery is written. For the teenager, I could make him picked on or teased, just as I was. I could make him mouthy and rude, just as I was. I could make him athletic and awesome, just as I dreamed of being. But I don't have to make him all three.

Challenge: Give your character a piece of your history. Not all of it. Just a piece that either changed you or changed who you were/are. Now, how does that change your character's actions and feelings about what is going on in his/her life?

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.


Britney Gulbrandsen said...

Great advice. It's easier to write what you know and it definitely adds to the work.

James Duckett said...

Your characters are supposed to be likable; the worst thing I could do is make them act like me.

Though, great advise, I like how this falls into the "write what you know" category.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I must be doing something right then. They all have a piece of me somewhere. lol