Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting Inside Your Character's Head

Greetings, fellow YAtopians! It is your friendly neighbourhood weirdo, Ryan. Today I'm coming to you with a post about character.

So, last week I was in an interesting discussion with my super cool, super secret writing group (Hello, Sommies!) that got me thinking. It surrounded J.K. Rowling and her BIG SHOCKING REVEAL a few years back that Dumbledore was gay. We were discussing whether or not information revealed after a book/series has already been written or information that remains in the writer's head can be considered part of the story. Basically, we agreed there are two camps of readers: ones that confine the story to the information in the book (he might be gay but we can't say for sure) and ones that go beyond that and expand the story however they want (he's gay because J.K. said so and it's obvious).

This post isn't about that, per se. It has more to do with the author's role in this. Extraneous information, that is, information about a character that doesn't make it into the book, is really, really important. In fact, I'd say it's crucial to writing a complex, well-rounded character. As writers, we must get inside our characters' heads, right? And through that we can better inhabit their voice. We don't have to use all that information, but we should know it.

So, you have to ask yourselves...


Uhh... *snort*

Hold on. Something is... wrong. I feel... funny... *sniffle*

Intense pain coming from my nose. It's like something is trying to... escape my nostrils. What the... 

It's coming out! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Ahhh, that's better! No, this isn't Ryan. He's sitting here beside me. Out like a light, of course. Ha! Guess he couldn't handle his character breaking loose from his brain. Through his nose! Gotta say, it wasn't the easiest way out. Totally forgot how sticky snot can be. And I've picked my fair share of snot. But, hey, a character's got to be heard, am I right? 

So Ryan thought he could get inside MY head? Fat chance. Little did he know I was planning to escape from HIS head. And now I have. I'm here, ready to grace you all with my presence. You all better watch out because your characters can get loose at any time too. Just a heads up.

No one gets inside my head. Hear that, Ryan? Haha, no, he's not hearing a whole lot right now. See this red ball cap on my head? Yeah, it's my favourite. You want to know why? Because it keeps people like Ryan OUT of my head. Well, also because my dad bought it for me before he shipped off to Iraq. Red's my favourite colour too. Your characters probably have favourite things too, things they love more than anything, things that keep them safe. You should know those things, people!

So, where do I go from here? Good question! I have a favourite place. I can hide there when Ryan starts to wake up. Where? Ha! I'm not telling you! You'll tell Ryan. But I'm sure your characters have favourite places too. Bet you'll blab about that as well.

You should know that the thing I hate worst in the world is a tattle-tail. Like my kid brother, Mikey. One time I stole a packet of Jolly Ranchers from the corner store. Uhh... maybe I shouldn't be telling you this. Whatever... it's too late. Anyway, I stole the Jolly Ranchers (the best candy ever, by the way) because my best friend Buster dared me to. Well, Mikey was there and wouldn't keep his trap shut! He ran to my mom and she told me what she always tells me, "Gregory Samuel Jacobs, you never cease to disappoint me!" Then she grounded me for a month. I'm sick of trying not to disappoint her! 

Anyway, I'm sure your characters have people in their lives that say stupid stuff like that too. I'm sure they have stories just like mine with brothers or sisters that are good for nothing!

Give me one second. Just got to grab something from Ryan's nose. Ahh, there we go. My trusty backpack. Do your characters have backpacks? Maybe they have purses. I bet there are all sorts of cool things inside. I got the latest Para-Man comic. It's awesome. Let's see what else. Some rubber bands for shooting at the girls. Pencil crayons and notebook where I like to doodle. Oh, and this cat's cradle string. It keeps my hands occupied. I seem to always need to have my hands occupied. At least that's what my homeroom teacher, Mr. Lippman says. He's cool. Probably my favourite teacher. He gave this string to me. I thought it was stupid at first, but it has come in handy. Bet your characters have weird things like that too.

Uh oh, Ryan's waking up! Gotta go! See you at the old grain elevator on Smith St. Er, wait... no that's not my favourite place or anything... damnit!

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