Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Mental Snack (26)



Share your thoughts...


"If you want to get to know someone, it's like finding out how to fold a piece of origami. One must not rush, or the they will rip the paper. One must take it slowly, piece-by-piece, step-by-step. Fold the pieces inward, fold the pieces outward, and discover how such a small piece of paper can be full of secrets. In the end, you'll get the beautiful swan that we all desire." ~ Vatche Yousefian

How do you get to know someone in your life? Do you have long conversations with them? Stare deeply into their souls? Test their knowledge? If you're a writer, how do you get to know your characters well enough to write about them? What would you compare it to?


19 comments:

The Words Crafter said...

You know, it's really not nice to make my brain work so hard at the end of a long workday, LOL...let's see...with people, I'm shy. I either follow on a friend's coattails, or I look for common interests. Working with children is easy-we start out talking about their child. In the blog world, it's easier. We literally spill our thoughts, bare our souls and allow strangers to peer into the deepest parts of ourselves. Amazingly, everyone is kind! Even if someone disagrees with points of views, beliefs, etc., it seems there is enough respect for each other as human beings to rise above differences to find common grounds.

Characters? I birth them, guide them for a while in places and directions I want them to go. When they don't like those places, they feel 'wrong' to me. So, I take them somewhere else. Eventually, I let them pick the places...what about you?

A provocative query, by the way...loving it!

Jen said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love meeting new people and your blog is one to be admired!

How do I get to know people? I talk with them, share a little about myself, piece by piece until I think we could relate with one another. Never do I lay everything out on the table, then again does anyone?

Characters? Well they talk to me. I open up a blank sheet of paper and write, along the way they give me tidbits about themselves, what they like what they don't like. Eventually we create a friendship and together hand in hand we learn more about one another. I grow as a writer just as my character grows into something more.

Lydia Kang said...

Such an interesting observation. When I try to write characters before I've fleshed them out in my mind, they do tend to be very two dimensional. I've tried to get a better grasp of many aspects of my characters before writing this time around, and it makes a difference!

Charmaine Clancy said...

I stalk them, break into their house, go through their medicine cabinet... oh, characters... I start to know my characters better when I work out what weaknesses they have. When I know what they are absolutely hopeless at, I can decide if they would be bothered by that, or are they terrified of something - how would they do standing up to their worst fear if something important was at risk? I get to know their secrets, who their crush is, where they really want to be, etc.
I like your origami insight - very thoughtful.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I guess for me it starts out kind of like a movie. I document what the characters say and do as a more 'functional' roll for the story and then as things progress I recieve a deeper knowledge of why they do what they do and say what they say. They take on a personality of their own and then by the end of the book, I know them well and can go back and buff up the opening chapters.

Amanda Sablan said...

I'm not one for long conversations, at least until I've already gotten to know someone very well and I feel as if I can talk to that person without them basically ignoring my feelings. To get to that point involves a lot of understanding that person's interests and values.

With characters, I just take my time in learning about them. I put them in situations to see how they'd react and from there, I glean some of their character traits which I then use in other scenes.

Medeia Sharif said...

I need to talk at length with people and also feel absolutely comfortable in their presence.

With characters, I do a lot of daydreaming and I started writing voice journals for them.

WritingNut said...

Very thought provoking!

Writing my story for me is how I get to know my characters. It's like with meeting someone - the more time you spend with them, the better you get to know them, and it can't really be forced. Before long, my characters revealing themselves to me.

Everything takes time :)

Have a great weekend!

Vatche said...

Hey, The Words Crafter! I'm sorry to work your brain after a long workday, but it's healthy so I'm glad you're giving it a shot! :D

I used to be a shy person myself, but then I decided to open my shell. I became a person that was open about anything, so you should try opening up too.

I agree that the blog world is easier to open up to, because most people are respectful to each other on blogs, but sometimes they aren't. I've seen some people hash out on others and it is not a pretty sight.

As for my characters, they guide me throughout the stories just like you. My fingers follow their thoughts and actions. I let them take control. If they take a 'wrong' path, it doesn't feel right to me either, so I take those few steps back and try a different route.

Write on and continue to let your characters be your guide!

Vatche said...

Hello, Jen! No problemo on stopping by on your blog; it was really my pleasure. :)

That's some interesting thoughts about how you meet people. You share with them piece-by-piece, I think I do the same. Also true, is that no one lays things completely out on the table, but I know a few people in my life that don't share equally on this such said table, whether it's too much or too little.

Also, that's a cool way of putting your journey with your character into a sort of friendship. A friendship where you both grow and become better and stronger because of what was written.

So, write on and continue to grow with your characters by making that blank page colored with ink!

Vatche said...

Thank you for your kind words, Lydia.

I can see the problem with two-dimensional characters, I suffer from that sometimes as well. However, I get a better grasp of my characters when I see them in my mind's eye for a while. When I know their dislikes and likes, their weaknesses and strengths, their motives and their fears, that's when they become not characters but real people in my eyes.

It's great to hear that your characters are becoming more three-dimensional, so write on!

Vatche said...

Hey, Charmaine!

That first sentence really cracked me up. Anyways, as for characters, I can see how knowing their weaknesses and how much they are willing to risk can be important to the story, because that's what a reader wants: conflict.

However, I also believe writers should know their characters better than just weaknesses, but almost everything about the characters, as if that character were the writer himself/herself.

So, write on, create those bold stories, and thank you for your kind words and insights!

Vatche said...

Bonjour, Creepy Query Girl!

That's a new perspective on getting to know your characters better, which is by comparing it to a movie or documentary. I often see my WiP as movies, as well, but hardly do I observe the characters like in a documentary, which I should try maybe.

I usually just let the characters take me by the hand and lead me through their adventures. It's a fun way to get to know your characters if you just give them the wheel.

Anyway, write on!

Vatche said...

Hello, Amanda!

I can definitely understand not engaging in long conversations with people until you can fully trust that they would give you their undivided attention, I believe I am the same way. I always start by giving little conversation topics, which I add my opinion to and ask for the others for their opinion on the subject matter. If I totally trust the person and they are my friend, I can dive deeper into the conversation and go on for hours, if that person and I aren't too busy with our schedules.

I'm very much the same way with my characters when it comes to showing off their true colors, I put them into a scene where their best traits are shown off. I learn about them when I write those scenes rather than before the writing process actually. Before the writing process, I only know a hazy idea of what the character looks like and what traits he/she has.

Write on!

Vatche said...

Hey, Medeia (cool name btw)!

I think your absolutely right that one must feel comfortable with the person they are talking to before talking at length with them, which is why I share little about myself when meeting someone new.

I daydream A LOT, too, but I think writers are all guilty of that! However, I haven't heard of voice journals before, so I'm going to definitely check more on that.

Write on!

Vatche said...

Hello, Writing Nut!

I'm glad you thought this Mental Snack to be very thought provoking and thank you for your contribution to the snack that has now become a feast of thoughts!

You're right on how it takes time to meet new people and new characters, one must learn about them slowly and not reveal too much about them, because people are naturally curious and enjoy mystery. If you reveal everything, there is no mystery.

So continue that journey, learn about your characters, the people in your life, have a great weekend, and write on!

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Anonymous said...

go find out what "hash out" means- you're using it wrong

Vatche said...

Thank you, Anonymous, once again.

Apparently, "hash out" means to have a detailed discussion with someone. I always believe it was to have an argument. Silly me.

Thank you for correcting my mistakes. I appreciate it. :D

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