Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing Tip: Doughnuts and Discovering Character

It's the beginning of the story, the scene's in your head, and all of a sudden, you hit a snag.

What would your hero do when a stranger gropes his ass and offers him a doughnut at the same time?

All right, so perhaps that's not what happens in your particular story. But for a lot of us, there will come a time in our story when we're not entirely sure how our characters would react. Would our hero take the doughnut and remove the hand? Take the doughnut and the hand both? Throw the other man down and use the doughnut as a cock ring?

It's a real conundrum.

Usually, a bit of thought, or a few false starts, will get you through this. But sometimes it can go on for days. The story stalls as you try, and try again, and still feel like your character is beyond your ability to fully comprehend.

When that happens? Try this.

Take him shopping.

Go to an on-line store, a mall in real life, a market, anything that has a lot of items. Then ask yourself a series of questions about the character and their interaction with the goods you see. The questions can be anything that you think will help reveal part of his character to you, but here's a few ideas.

1. What item would your character desperately want to buy?
2. What item would your character rather die than bring back to his house?
3. What item would your character want, but never admit wanting, to anyone?
4. What item would your character need, but not even admit to himself?

The author Jill Knowles suggested the above concept to me, along with a lot of the questions I've used. I'll admit, I've only used it a few times, but it's been very useful when I have.

Another way to get to know your character?

Explore their personal information.

Not the information you already know, or even the traits you plan to put in the story. I'm talking about the little, trivial crap that no one would even want to read about. The stuff that sits in your brain once you know it and pops out at odd moments in the story when you least expect it. Some examples?

Body - Favorite body part on HIS body. Most hated body part. Traits like allergies, freckles, moles, old injuries and scars, the way his dick curves a little to the left.

Likes and dislikes - Favorites and most hated in music, entertainment, accents, countries, morals, food, drink, morning-after scenarios, pets, political parties.

Childhood - Pets, family, friends, humiliating and exhilerating moments, education, attempts at hair cutting and sheep shearing.

Sex - position favs and dislikes, first time, last time, frequency, payment method, experimentation, reputation.

Housing - address, style of furniture, decorating scheme, lighting, country or city.

You can only imagine how long you can make this list, eh? But often, it just takes a few items on a list like this to get your brain energized, immersed more fully in the character as you make up the small scar on his left knee from the time Billy Bob tripped him in the school yard.

And the scar on his right knuckle from when he punched Billy Bob in the mouth and hit a tooth.

As always, I think what works is a very individual thing, but hopefully, the above methods may resonate for some of you and help you with a rut or two of your own. :-)