One of my favorite things about writing is creating people. It’s the chance to make someone up and live vicariously. As a child, I loved to “play pretend” and become someone else.
Oh who am I kidding? I still love to play pretend. I once donned a beret and spoke with a British accent for 48 hours just to see if people bought it. I was 22. 😀 Damn, that was a fun weekend.
For a lot of writers, the character comes first, but there are those characters – you know the ones – who give you way too much grief in their creation. They’re hard to grasp as fully formed, multi-dimensional people. In the past I’ve blogged about using zodiacs and other tools to help you flesh out your pretend people. Today I offer you:
Better Homes & Gardens for your Heroes and Heroines
Think about it. How and where does your character live? What do they call home? Are they contemporary or shabby chic? Minimalist or clutter collector? Full of frills or monitone man cave? This could define what you’re missing in your characters.
For example, my heroine Leah, lives in a small rental home not unlike this:
Her furniture would be second hand at this point, but what does this room tell you about Leah? She has a decent amount of stuff. Plenty of knick knacks and collectibles, but they’re kept organized. Clean lines, lots of books, pictures, photo albums, and fresh cut flowers. She likes to keep things and she puts them all in a well thought out, proper place that’s asthetically pleasing. Might she be sentimental? Possibly a romantic? Who is she spying on with those binoculars? Or is she bird watching?
I have a hero in another book and his home looks a lot like this:
Bright, neat and tidy. No clutter for this hero. Lots of thought and money spent on lighting, high end electronics, mainly uses neutrals, somewhat minimalist with some funky art pieces and deco area rug. Is that a bust of Beethoven? Bottle of red wine? Do you think this guy is haphazard? Often unprepared or detail oriented? Is he a little OCD or the kind of person who’d trample sand into the house and leave it there for weeks? Would you trust him to do all of your logistics and computer infiltration?
Tell me about the person who lives here:
I mean besides the fact that Syd and I would rob them of their lamps first chance we got. What else would you theorize about them?
What kind of lover would they be? Would they cook a meal for their significant other? Take their time and woo, appealing to all the senses? Would the sex be wham bam thank you ma’am or more likely to last an entire weekend with breaks in between for food and hydration?
You get where I’m going with this? What if your character doesn’t have a home? What does that mean for his or her conflicts and motivations?
Next time you’re stuck, be it with characterization or even plot – I swear this will help your plot too – consider the homes in your story. If home is where the heart is, you need to know where your characters live.