Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Not the Size of the Boat, but the...

Now, that I've got your attention. Today I want to talk about the characters of your novel. I've talked about this before but it bears repeating.

Have you ever been exhausted after reading? The pace of the books was so fast that you, the reader, put the book down needing a nap? Yes, it's happened to me. That I gotta turn the page to see what happens next that every author wants to achieve but few do.

While writing have you invested your reader into your characters so much that they are there in scene watching and waiting to see what happens next? Can the reader relate to the character on some personal level? Whether you are writing aliens or ghosts the reader needs to relate to your character on some subconscious level. Think about the movie "Ghost" did you care whether Sam went into the light? Would he be able to prove his partner was the bad guy? Did your heart go pitter-pat and almost wrench out of your chest at the kiss? I know mine did. Can your readers see your character in this light?

I've been told too many times that in reading my novels, they unfold scene by scene like a movie. Well they are like movies in my head when I write them. I can see, feel, taste, and smell the scenes as if they are happening to me as I write them down. I have a very graphic imagination that is often three dimensional. In my nightmares I ask questions...I know it sounds strange, but years ago when I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and the depression that goes along with it. I used to replay scenes in my head of things which occurred in great detail. What changed for me was learning how to control my dreams within the dreams.

But just like with writing, you don't get it right the first couple times you do it. It takes time and practice. I was pretty bad off for several years. Now, I use my dreams in my writing. The good ones, the bad ones, and the mind blowing awful ones get piece mealed into what I write. Now, everyone can relate to a nightmare. There isn't a person on this Earth who hasn't had one...even newborns dream.

In the tab above your will find an example of a character study I did for one of my characters. Take a look. Notice I've included music, art, books, faults as well as the usual character traits. It's all these little details which makes us as humans unique. It is also what makes your characters three dimensional. As a writer you take your mental image of a story, you mold the characters. It is giving birth to an adult or child. You become the DNA researcher who looks at this or that gene and determines what this character looks, feels, and senses about everything in their world. How they interact with others just like real humans do on a daily basis.

You may have noticed I include at least two to three images for any blog I create. I do this on purpose for several reasons. 1) It helps break up the space, 2) visual impact, and 3) because I can.

I realize that people are unique. While some may read and visualize without a problem, others need a visual cue to bring the point home. It's why early readers are heavily illustrated. Now in adult literature, you may put a small picture at the heading of each chapter, but it's your words that draw the images in the reader's mind. I'll finish this post with an excerpt from my upcoming horror novel to illustrate. It is complete and in the editing stage.

Excerpt "Zombie Apocalpyse: Travelers" All Rights Reserved

Kamaka’eha broke through the barrier and was inside the residence.  She sniffed the air.  The meat was close and her tongue ran across her parched, caked lips in anticipation. The others followed her inside.  Her limping gait carried her to the stairs and she took them one at a time as she climbed.  A scurrying noise from above caused her to quicken her pace. Something heavy was moved across the floor, anxious voices, and a stifled scream.  She reached the landing and walked to the first door. It opened with almost no effort. Nothing, the room was empty.

She inhaled again.  The scent was closer.  The rich, pungent smell of unwashed bodies.  She could almost hear the rapid beat of their hearts.  Yes, she thought, plenty of meat for her hungry band of beings. Kamaka’eha took another sinus full of the aroma…four or five distinct traces.  Groaning and waving her arm she urged her family forward. She stepped to the second doorway and pushed.  Blocked.

Yes, they were in there. She grunted with effort as she used her body weight against the obstacle.  The others joined her and the door moved under the pressure. A scream issued from the other side of the door and the sound of rushing feet running towards her filled her ears in the meat’s feeble attempt against insurmountable odds.  Two to one odds in Kamaka’eha’s favor, she definitely like the odds as she put more force behind her shove. Another two inches and they could eat.  The hunger gnawed at her insides.  The rage filled her mind fueling her efforts.

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