Take Your Character to Work Day

Feb 20, 2017 | Novels

Nicole ValentineNicole Valentine (nicolevalentinebooks.com), one of the faculty for our Whole Novel Workshop, shared some thoughts about character.

Everyone knows time is the greatest gift you can give to a writer on deadline.

It’s the biggest problem we have. We are somehow expected to fit in the demands of reality, while keeping one foot planted in our fictional world. Most writers are still holding down the time-honored day job. Even if you happen to be one of the lucky full-time writers, you soon realize the non-writing demands of an author’s life are endless. Your calendar fills up with school visits, website edits, scheduling, marketing and trying to achieve inbox zero. Precious writing time becomes harder to find than a working alethiometer.

It would be wonderful if we could somehow split ourselves in two and ask that clone to run those errands for us, or keep writing for us while we get some of life’s necessities done.

There is a way and you don’t even have to worry about messy cloning vats in the basement. Turn all your everyday life frustration into fodder.

Take your character with you. Go about your entire day with that character in your head and ask them to comment on your humdrum life.

Stuck in a boring meeting? Ask Korgoa the Great Emancipator how to handle the situation. Try not to laugh out loud when he suggests gouging out the eyeballs of your “Chief Visionary Officer.”

Waiting for what seems like forever in a doctor’s waiting room? What would your teen protagonist think of your fellow dwellers in purgatory? Ask yourself what she would notice about the setting. Ugh, what is up with that dark mauve carpet anyway? Is that man sitting across from you Principal Ames? We need to blast, NOW!

Traffic on I-95 again? You certainly can’t write while driving, but you can PREPARE to write. How does the Great Witch of Islabeld handle traffic? Is there even a traffic problem in Islabeld? Oh, you’d better write this down! Oh wait, you can’t. You’re driving remember? Much like the Great Witch you have magic of your own. You can take an audio note with your smartphone. On an iPhone it’s as easy as saying “Hey Siri, take a note. I just realized that Islabeld has a huge congestion problem on their east coast subterranean highway.”

This is nothing new. It is how writers think. We take from life. We notice what others do not and we remember it. I am suggesting you go one step further and wear a character for the entire day. Take notes. Go deep. When you do return to your desk, you will have a treasure trove of information. The scenes will come easily, almost as if you had an alethiometer of your own.

Always remember that even the most seemingly mundane aspects of life can create art.

Thank you to our faculty for this Guest Post!

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