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Looking at your characters in different ways can add depth and continuity to your story.
You need to account for your character’s time even if that never appears in the book. When you know this, you will know how they react in any given situation.
You need to know what your characters are doing when they are not performing in your story.
Characters need a sense of continuity – a feeling that they existed before your story and will exist after (unless they die).
For example: What relationship would an apple have to different characters? eg a dentist, a theologian, a teacher, a fruitier. How do they feel about something so simple?
Because, simply, readers care about characters that feel real.
Audio From Kim Wilkins – Characters’ Off-Stage Lives
Do you know what your main character does at 2pm every Tuesday? Listen as Kim talks about the value in knowing your characters’ off-stage lives.
Don’t forget to download the audio notes below too (available in PDF format) before you listen to this week’s lesson so you can take notes.
PDF (right click and ‘Save As’): Audio Notes – Lesson 13 – Characters’ Off Stage Lives
Use this document to organise your notes when listening to the ‘Characters’ off-stage lives’ audio.
Think about your character in unexpected ways. What kind of relationship do your characters have to their characteristics?
For example, what would the content of the bins below tell you about the characters who own them?
Rubbish bin 1
Empty fish-fingers packet
Two torn coke cans
Rubbish bin 2
Cotton wool balls with removed red-nail polish
Can of brand-named cat food
Herbal tea bag
Lean cuisine wrapper
Knowing about your characters’ off stage lives gives you a clear sense of how your characters might respond to specific events that occur in the story.
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Write a first-person account of what a detective would see at the murder scene of your main character. Then in part two, use the questions provided to interview your main character.
WHAT TO DO:
- Your character has been murdered (probably by a jealous rival writer) by being deliberately crushed under a bookcase in his or her own home. A hard-boiled detective comes to the murder scene.
a. Write a first-person, hard-boiled account of what he sees and what judgments he makes about your character (1-2 paras).
b. Post to the Murder and Character Interview Forum.
- Answer the interview questions below for your character. Then discuss on the Murder and Character Interview Forum what you found out about your character (if anything) that you didn’t expect.
- What is most important in your life right now?
- Who do you admire most?
- What frightens you enough to keep you awake at night?
- You are a poor swimmer, but you see a toddler fall into a lake. What do you do?
- You aren’t paying attention while driving, and hit somebody at a crossing. What do you do?
- You discover that your mother is/was not your biological mother, but that you were abducted as a baby. What do you do?
- You think you are falling in love with your sister’s husband/ brother’s wife. What do you do?
- Revolution has swept your country and now a new leader rises who you think might be evil. What do you do?
- If you could change one bad thing about the world, what would it be?
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