Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peeps Rattling Around in my Head

Robin Lee Hatcher says, “Being a novelist means it’s okay to have characters rattling around in my head.” I love this quote and despite the fact that I am only an aspiring novelist at this point, I know exactly what she means. One of my favorite parts about fiction writing is getting to know my characters. These figments of my imagination grow and change. They become as well known to me as my own family and friends. Someday I hope they become as well known to my readers as they are to me.

I jokingly tell people they should be nice to me or they might end up in my novel. I have yet to full on create a character just like someone I know, but I am always people watching for those little things that make the people who populate my imaginary world realistic. I have always been a people watcher and I find myself looking for those little things that make them unique.

Have you ever noticed some of the things people do without thinking about it? Traits that have become so ingrained they often don’t notice they are doing them. There’s the young boy in church who constantly smoothes one area on the back of his hair. He doesn’t seem to realize it, but I do. Then there’s the lady who sways only one hip when she walks. Not quite sure how she does that, but I can see a trait like that taking root in one of my characters. I love seeing those little things that just are. It’s the little things that authors display in their characters that stick with me. They make the people feel more lifelike.

I was a little skeptical the first time I heard someone say, “I didn’t know my character was going to do that until she did.” Seriously, you created the character. But, as silly as this may sound, this actually happens. I have a character in my current work in progress who was just a young girl hanging out waiting for her mom. Little did I know that she held a secret that was slowly eating away at her peace of mind. When I realized that secret I was a little stunned. This girl has really come to life in my imagination and revealed herself a little at a time. She has grown near and dear to my heart. And, she is actually central to the story but she didn’t start out in my mind that way. And, she came to life for me as she picked up those characteristics that I witnessed during my people watching.

If the characters fall flat, so will the story. So if you ever run into me and happen to wonder what is going on in my head, it just may be that my peeps are rattling around my head showing me who they really are!

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