Although it’s a dreary one, it’s a great day for sitting at my computer writing. It’s also the kind of weather when I love to grab a book, curl up on the couch and pass some time in another world. As I’ve mentioned, I love books with complex characters. The more complex, the more real. The more real, the more invested I become in their lives.
Writers not only have to be keen observers of human nature, they have to know how to construct a life story around human foibles and traits, build it from the ground up, so that the character makes sense. There has to be a beginning, a birth so-to-speak, and along the way, their lives have to be strung with events and relationships that make the characters who they are. Readers need to understand where their flaws, inner demons, and conflict come from. It’s one of the reasons I have a subscription to Psychology Today. It explores human nature in depth, and provides articles on the various aspects of human behavior that help me answer those who, what, when, where and why questions. The many courses I’ve taken in psychology have helped me visualize what the character should look and feel like.
I’m in the middle of writing a story about a woman who was left behind when her family moved. I had to figure out why she was left behind, how old she was when it happened, where she lived to give it geographic definition, how it occurred, and what she had to do to survive. Having never gone through anything so traumatic, I’ve read books about where she comes from, about homelessness, about grief and loss and it’s helped put her into perspective.
Tansy’s never had the opportunity to build a social network so she has no true friends, only acquaintances. She has trust or abandonment issues and refuses to form committed relationships. And even though she has worked hard to outdistance her past, has a college degree and the promise of a job, she’s still homeless. Is there something that can turn her life around? It’s another vein that has to be mined. And if it’s a who who’s able to pull her out of herself, what kind of life has he led, and what idiosyncrasies does he bring to the table?
It’s the most complicated part of the writing process, but the one I enjoy the most.