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Breathing Life Into Your Idea

11 Oct

I Want To Be A Writer Series

Who, What, Where, & When?

Alright, you have an idea, you know what genre you are writing for, and you know you who your target audience is. You now have a blank canvas giving you a mental picture of the general size of the book you need to create. Awesome, so is it time to start writing your masterful idea?

Nope, not yet. You don’t know the characters yet. You can’t write a book if you don’t know who or what the most important aspects of your book are. Not having a clear conception of your characters can lead to a book filled with inconsistencies and confusion for your readers. Unless you are purposefully writing about a group of people with Multiple Personality Disorder then you better take some time and get to know your characters as well as you know your own brother or sister. You must have a clear understanding of what they look like, how old they are, where they’re from, what is their occupation, what grade are they in if they go to school, etc. All of the details that are necessary to understand your character must be evident in your story. You must also understand what kind of language and tone they speak in. That is one of the most important aspects of dialogue and it must remain consistent all through the story unless something changes making the need for the language and tone to change.

So this is where we become mad scientists and we breathe life into your imaginary world and make it so real to you that every time you close your eyes you are practically there living in it. In order to make that possible you must know not only your characters, but their environment and the period of time they are living in. This is where the old writer’s adage, “write what you know” comes into play.

It’s time to go back to your old study habits from school and think about what tools you used that helped you retain information the most. I personally write a short biography for each of my characters. When I start writing too much information then I know I have established a relationship with them. If I struggle then it is an indication that I need to develop and learn more about them. Pictures of the setting in your book give a great visual guide but you must remember that sight is not the only sense you want to relay to your readers. You want them to be able to transport to your location in their mind and experience the sounds, the scents, the weather, even the feel of the ground beneath their feet. You want to do the same with your characters. At this point you want as many details as you can create. You may or may not include them all in your story but at this point, you need to know all of these things.

There are tools that you may want to consider starting now that you will find useful throughout your writing process. One of the most difficult challenges I faced writing my first book, let alone a series, was keeping the time on track.  It is very easy to write a couple of chapters and suddenly find yourself lost in the sense of time. Time progression is extremely important environmentally wise, character wise, and story development wise. You don’t want your character referencing something that happened several months ago that took place in your last chapter and yet your characters are still wearing shorts in what should now be a winter month. It’s one of those details that can screw your whole story up if you do not pay close attention. My solution to this problem was creating a timeline in which I recorded the time of each chapter and continued it through my now fifth book. For each note I included short details of important events that were likely to be brought up at a later time. You may also find it helpful to dig even deeper into the timeline and include important events that happened to your characters before your story takes place.  This will help you keep track of your character’s ages and anything else that is important to who they are now.  This can also apply to the environment or plot of your story.  If you are writing about a single battle during a war, you are going to need to know the details of the war that lead up to the battle. Some writers spend far more time researching than writing the actual book. Take some time and organize yourself so that everything is readily available to you when you need it. There is nothing worse than needing a piece of information and having to break your whole flow of writing to find it. It is things like this that easily lead to writers block because you get lost in the middle of a moment and you cannot get yourself back to that moment to finish writing it.

Take in these popular quotes:

Fiction is about intimacy with characters, events, places. -Robert Morgan

The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself. -Jim Rohn

Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense. -Mark Twain
Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible. -Ray Bradbury
Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people. -Roald Dahl

Previous Post of the Series – “I Have An Idea!”

Next Post of the Series – “It’s Elemental, And You Need Them All”

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in IWTBAW Series

 

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