Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com
I look forward to dropping by to share a new post with you about writing Christian fiction. I’ve been blessed for the past twelve years with an amazing career – second career actually, and I’ve learned so much on this journey.
One thing to know is that learning never ends. I read magazines and books on writing, continual improving my craft and loving every moment.
I’ve been sharing thoughts on Intimate Storytelling which means bring the main characters to life in a dynamic way that they seem real. Today I will show you how you can reveal characterization in a rather different way.
How a character moves, sits, responds, and thinks helps the readers know who he is. His actions as well as his introspection and emotions bring him to life and keep him from being a two-dimensional character. The whole idea of intimacy in storytelling has to do with bringing the reader into the story through the character—allowing the character to reveal all aspects of his nature. Skimping on introspection can result in a lack of both emotion and character depth. When readers hear the character’s thoughts, they more fully understand what he is going through. Readers can sense his emotional struggle, relate to the way he plops into a chair or paces the floor or smashes his fist against the wall or a couch pillow. It’s not a wasted action but one that defines the mental state of the character.
In Part II, I mentioned allowing elements of your story to deepen your characterization. I’ve written articles on using the weather or the landscape as a means to do this. Rocky cliffs can reflect the rocky life of the character. A sunny day or a garden of blossoming flowers can reflect the character’s happy or positive mood. Rain on a window or ruts in the road can symbolize a character’s sadness or struggle. A room filled with bric-a-brac and dollies reveals an old fashioned character or someone who is sentimental. A sleek modern setting might reveal someone who is business first, a person in control and unwilling to show his emotions, or afraid someone will get to know the real him. Use it as you will, but allow it to assist the reader in knowing the inner workings of your character more fully.
Use a person’s attire to reflect character. A tomboy girl might wear jeans, a man’s flannel shirt and a baseball cap backward. A woman flaunting her sexuality might wear a low cut neckline and fabric that clings to her curves. A man trying to fit into the business world but not quite making it might wear a suit, white shirt, tie and white socks. A sure giveaway. A woman who wants to avoid being found attractive could wear loose fitting clothing with high necklines. Hair styles, grooming and attire are all means to allow the reader to know the real characteristics of the main characters in your novel.
Avoid using your voice as the characters’ voices. Character should be distinctive so that the reader can tell them apart. One person speaks with a more flowery vocabulary, another talks in short, blunt sentences, and another might use bad grammar and a lot of slang. When using slang or favorite phrases, make sure you’re not using your own favorite words. Create new ones for your characters. Find new ways to describe what they see through their experiences, occupation and lifestyle.
Still no matter how a character dresses, moves, or talks, readers will learn most through their emotional reactions and thoughts.