Monday, March 26, 2012

Strong Characters

  All right guys! Well there's this challenge going around telling everyone to post a teaser to their writing every week, and then somehow relate it to a lesson in writing. So I'm going to take that challenge! So, here's a good topic.

  I hear voices in my head..

  Stop what your thinking right now! I'm not schizophrenic or anything.But yes, it is true, there are people living inside my head, and they speak to me.

  Any writer experiences this, and if you haven't, then the characters in your story probably need some more development. Before you start freaking out about the crap load of work you have to do now because you don't hear voices in your head, don't worry, I was kidding about that. Well... I hope you guys understood that. When you write something the characters come alive and become real to you, if your connected to the story enough.

 At the moment I am in the process of writing the sequel to Manipulated, and also editing Manipulated. It's not healthy to be so in love with a story line when your editing, because you don't want to get rid of stuff, but I can't help it. I love the story and I love writing it! But, how did this happen? Why is it I love this story so much? It's because of the characters.

  In my mind I've grown friendships with these people. I know their quirks, what sets them off, their bonds and ties, how far they would go in a situation, what they consider humorous. I know who they love and how they love, I know their losses, their joys, their heartbreak, what breaks them, what can't break them, because I created it all. My creations have become so real to me, and all these people are my immortal friends who will forever live in my head. Because I created them they way they are, I know how they would react to things, how they would respond, and they tell me what I need to do. If I'm ever stuck in the middle of a situation I think to myself, hmm, what would Kya do, or what would Jet do? And that character comes alive in my head and tells me.

  In the beginning, I felt disconnected with the characters. I didn't exactly know who they were, what their attitude towards life was, how they would react to things. I tried to get inside their heads and find out what they would do, but I couldn't because I couldn't get inside their head because their heads didn't exist. I hadn't created them yet.

  It got to the point that I would go outside in the woods barefoot to try to connect with my inner Kya.

 Trust me... never, and I mean never, walk around the forest barefoot unless you are Kya or Pocahontas, which none of us are. There are pine cones, and thorns, and pointy leaves...

 Once I actually started developing the characters, answers started coming clearly to me.
In the story Manipulated, Kya is a water manipulator trapped inside the colonies, villages of manipulators with an island type feel to them, with Chasers, evil soldier type people, guard them and are supposed to bring them food and proper shelter, but don't and abuse them instead. She fends for her brother and mother and day to day living is a struggle. I knew that from the beginning, but I didn't know who she was.
So I dug in to her past. Her father was killed by Chasers as punishment for u
sing his manipulating powers. How would that affect a person? Her mother, though willing to work, doesn't know how to use her powers and can't fend for everyone, leaving the family totally dependent on Kya alone. How would that affect a person? She knows that the only way to fend for her family is to use her powers, but in doing so she could be killed just like her father, and where would that leave her family? How would that affect a person?

 I asked myself these questions and as Ignesio from Nacho Libre would say, got down to the nitty-gritty. I developed Kya in a way that would fit her. Headstrong, protective, daring. But what's unique about her? Almost every dystopian or YA novel these days have the same characteristics. That's key, find something that makes your character unique and un-cliched. 
Kya has become more and more developed as the story moves along. I've put myself in her shoes, and I found that she's one of my best friends.
Just to give you a little insight in to Kya's head and how she thinks, here's an excerpt from the book where I think her character shows up a lot.

  It wasn’t until I heard a voice from behind me that my eyes shot away from the sun. “Mind if I join you?”
  I jerked up to find Nalin standing above me, his arms dangling down beside his body, his face contorted. I bit my lip and settled myself back in to sand, keeping my eyes away from his.
  “What do you want, Nalin?” My voice was quiet and the annoyance inside was unmistakable.
  There was silence. “Nothing,” he finally said. His voice was gruff, hard to reach. He seated himself down in the sand and I could feel his eyes on me. I rolled to the side to turn away from his burning stare.
  “I walk two miles to be alone! Can’t I just be alone?!”
  “You don’t need to be alone,” he said. “You need a friend.”
  I let out a groan and then rolled on to my back so I was staring at Nalin’s face, glaring. “How do you know what I need?”
  “I know what you need because you are your father’s daughter.” I harrumphed and then rolled to my side again.
  “My father’s daughter…” I muttered under my breath. “I haven’t seen my father in years…” Nalin sighed in response and rested his hand on my unscarred shoulder.
  “He still has had an influence on you, even when he isn’t around. You remind me a lot of him. Strong headed, caring, able to take a punch…” Nalin then punched me in the stomach in a joking manner. Though it didn’t hurt I groaned.
  “I can think of a couple things my father is that I’m not…”
  “And what’s that?”
  “Protective…” I said silently mustering the pain that word brought. “I can’t protect anyone, two people have already died on my account, and a third is about to. My father, he was different than me. He could have protected Rio and my mother; they could have still been alive. If he had been in my position he would have fought beside Jet, and not let him get injured. I am not a protective person; if I was then I wouldn’t be in this situation!”
  Nalin shook his head and let out a long breath. “You’re wrong about not being like your father.”
  He nodded. “He was always putting unnecessary pressure on himself. He thought anything that went wrong was somehow his fault.” Nalin had walked around so that he was now facing me. “Kya, it isn’t your fault. Things happen and sometimes we can’t control what those things are.”
  “I could have…” Nalin cut me off before I could finish what I was going to say.
  “No you couldn’t have. None of this is your fault. ”

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