Saturday, May 5, 2012

Share some ice cream with your characters

A recent post on the importance of character interaction on the site Magical Words reminded me that one of the things I love most about my novel-in-progress is the characters. I absolutely love the way Neal and Sandy interact; they surprise me constantly, they make me think about human nature, they draw me further into their futures than I ever intended to go.

In his post, David B Coe makes the observation about the Harry Potter books that Harry himself has some intriguing things going on with his background and his personality, but it's his interaction with Hermione and Ron that we see a more developed character. As he deals with enemies we see his inner strength, and that brings out emotions in us, the readers. We get more invested in Harry the more he seems like a real person.

image photo : Portrait of an urban boyDavid's post gives me a certain validation about the way I'm handling my own WIP. Throughout the novel, Neal goes through several changes; some are precipitated by Sandy and some by other characters. Sandy's less-than-noble side is brought to the fore in his interaction with Neal, and Sandy is forced to deal with the things about himself that he doesn't like and tried to ignore.

On Letter Go, you'll find (on a separate page) an abbreviated version of the scene between Neal and Sandy on the day of Sandy's wedding. It takes place years beyond where I plan to end Street Glass. The full version of the scene is absolutely classic Sandy-and-Neal: Neal picks on Sandy for being the perennial Nice Guy, Sandy picks on Neal for being, well, Neal. They remind me of Carson and McMahon.

Even though that scene won't make it into the novel (unless maybe a sequel) it still gives me a lot to build on. Because I know how their friendship develops, it's easier to write how it begins. Some of the novel's plot points happen because of how they interact with each other, too.

image photo : Two cool guys with guitarsIn his post, David recommends doing pretty much the same thing--writing scenes with the intent of just getting to know the characters. From comments I see on Critique Circle, it appears that a lot of writers either don't know how helpful that can be, or have forgotten. If you've explored character interaction in scenes outside of your WIP, what have you learned that you didn't expect to? How has it made working on the WIP easier? Because y'all were nice enough to stop by, come have some Creme Brulee ice cream  :) And Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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