How To Get Into The Head Of A Character

I’m getting ready to start the 3rd round of revisions on this current WIP and with that comes some new characters (and revisiting old characters) and getting to do something I absolutely love – using my acting skills!

If you didn’t know, I have a BFA in Theatre Performance, and although I no longer do any acting, I still use the skills I learned when I create characters. To create a character I have to become the character. I have to get inside the character’s head and think about what they would do, how they would say things, and how they would act in certain situations. I need to make them as real as possible.

To start, I close my eyes and visualize what the person looks like. How are they dressed? What does their hair look like? Where are they? What are they doing? Then slowly, I become them. I picture myself wearing their clothes and doing what they are doing.  Seeing the world through their eyes. Then I start writing

 If I’m interviewing a brand new character then I write the questions as me, but I answer as them. If I’m revisiting an old character, I have them write a diary entry. I pick a time or place within my book and just let them tell me something.  If I’ve visualized them long enough it really does start to feel like someone else is writing. This is both very cool and a bit freaky.

For example, my new POV character, Gina, has a cousin named Libby, who is really upset in one part of my story, so when I did her diary entry she just dumped everything on to the page stream of consciousness style. But Gina’s twin brother, Carl, who is very smart and organized, wrote almost like a Twitter version of his day with times, dates, and complete sentences and proper grammar. Two very different characters with very distinct personalities. 

This feels like magic to me and reminds me of the absolute best part of my old acting life – becoming someone else to tell a story. When I can use my brain to create a person out of thin air, it’s literally awesome. 

What part of the writing process would you like to learn about next?  Would you like to know more about revision? Self-publishing? How I found my editor?  Seriously, let me know and I’ll add it to my list of topics I want to talk about over the next few months.



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