Discovering Characters

Ver en grande Explore ¡¡ 01/09/09 :D

Ver en grande Explore ¡¡ 01/09/09 😀 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the gems of writing fiction, of creating worlds and lives and their stories, is discovering the people in the book. This is what I have just experienced, again. I knew this character existed, but I didn’t know anything about them. Until eight hours ago.

It is an amazing experience each time. I am fascinated by each piece of the gathering puzzle.

The first time you hear their voice. Sometimes it’s a shock. Sometimes it’s the relief of sinking into your favorite pillow that a few moments before you had not even realized you were missing. And then you begin absorbing what they said: the words they chose, the way they pieced them together, and what it all reveals. Each word tells more than they know. More than you know. And then there’s the expression, the eyes. A multitude of details. Some of it unreadable at first, but intriguing.

But that’s just the first insight. As you spend time listening to them and reading their expressions, you realize some of your first impressions were incorrect. Maybe not entirely. Or maybe you just took the wrong turn. Yes, there was an intersection, but you should’ve turned left, or maybe not turned at all. Maybe it’s just a shield they hold up.

You start to recognize their consistencies and understand their inconsistencies. You become more adept at reading then correctly, though some things are to be wondered about until they trust you enough to confide in you. (The more you listen, the closer you come.) You understand what they mean rather than what they say. You recognize their tics and mannerisms, and how they combine with different situations and expressions to mean different things: nervousness, anger, fear, excitement, embarrassment, et cetera.

Their story starts pounding into your mind. Your concept of their past is shifting into the clarity that comes with truth. You see them, as God, in all their stages of life at the same time. You see more than the environment they grew up in and the people they grew up with… You see it through their eyes, and your own. You see it through the eyes of the child, and through your own objective perspective. You see their interpretations of others. You feel, as well as see, their experiences. You feel the effect, the way it shapes them.

The pieces of the puzzle align. The missing pieces have floated out of the fog and taken their places. You see the big picture, but you can also focus in on the pieces that build it. You continue to work and rework the puzzle, understanding it more each time.

Amidst all your learning you retain the memory of your first meeting. And you must not forget your first impressions, as this is how many of your other characters, and the unknowns, may interpret them at first. And what can it show about the development of the relationships already in their lives when you met them?

This is where it shifts. Now you are equipped to consider introductions between your characters. And, as a friend introducing two of your unacquainted friends, you consider their personalities, et cetera, and how they will react to one another, at first meeting and after more exposure. Will they clash? Will one misunderstand the other? Will they like one another immediately? Will they become friends over time? Will they eternally dislike one another? How will different introductory situations affect this?

And thus it continues.

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