Saturday, February 12, 2011

Golden Advice: Close to the Bone of Your Characters

Hi, folks, I'm continuing my month long series on craft. This week I'm going to focus on authentic characters. I do believe that this is one of the hardest things to do. Mainly because it requires digging into the life of the most important character in your story, yourself.

You might have noticed by now that writers usually have a personal story lurking in the background of their work. Your own story shapes what you write whether you like it or not. I think a good way to figure out how to shake out the deepest secrets of your characters is to shake out your own.

This week involves a little writing exercise. Get a sheet of paper (yes, I know, old school) and write your list of burning secrets, yes, the stuff you have never told anyone. (You might want to torch this sheet when you are finished with the exercise.) One more task to complete. After writing your secrets, think about how you feel. Now write about that.

Now let's try the same thing with a character. Sink into the fullness of that character in your thoughts. Now write that characters deepest secrets from their point of view. Honesty and bravery will bring you close to the bone.

I don't want to neglect the artists that read this blog. Here's a little thought to take with you, too. Creative work is all about our choices. One of the biggest choices you can make to take the interior pain you have known and to turn it out as something bright and beautiful.

Take the emotional content of a negative experience in your life and let it transform your work. Get your mind around the complete feeling of how your felt in one of your worst moments. Now, go to the happiest moment in your current work and let that energy fuel the work.

Exactly how is this really supposed to go? Lean into a light airy palette though you are full of dark browns, blacks and purples. Reshaping the negative into the positive will bring you close to the bone of your art.

Hope something here helps. I hope you seize the day. See you next week for more of the golden advice series.

I call this week's doodle, "Figure in the Light."

This week's quote:
What is uttered from the heart alone, will win the hearts of others to your own. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


Janet Lee Carey said...

Excellent as always, Molly.

And by the way, remember my "Golden Coffee Cup" challenge for authors to add lines to their current work -- something to do with a golden coffee cup? I could not use coffee cup in medieval times on Wilde Island, but here's a line from DRAGONSWOOD -- due out Spring 2012 -- the dragon pours wine for Tess. Cheers to you and the cuppers.

~It is a grand thing to see great black talons pinch a wine jar and tip a slender red rivulet into an even smaller golden chalice.~

MollyMom103 said...

Oh, my favorite kind of moment -- to provide energy to the creative works of others and become part of the work in the process!

You are so awesome, Janet. I really miss you. I can't wait to read DRAGONSWOOD! I haven't figure out how to sneak in a golden coffee cup, YET...

Kjersten said...

I'm really liking this series, Molly. Thanks for including us artists in the mix.

Angela Baumgartner said...

I really liked what you said; and it happened to be about taking some painful things and turning them around. As both a visual and literary artist- that was great. Thank you!!

MollyMom103 said...

To Kirsten -- I'm happy to share my little gleanings.

To A --I love art. Glad you found this useful.