One of the things that I had to do with ParaEducate, I had to step out of my comfort zone. I was telling an audience what I believed directly instead of leading them through the eyes of someone else. But that reminds me as I return to fiction this summer, what I needed to focus on.
Characters and dialogue are the backbone of my writing techniques. Most of my stories at least start out in rough draft with a piece of conversation. And I can have the two or three characters banter around for hours before I really look at the characters.
It is probably then I reflect on who the character really is. I have a list of character traits I've used since high school. I look into every piece of the character's life trying to find a way to bring the character from just someone sitting across from someone. A few years ago, I used a song playlist to describe sections of the story I was writing as if I was trying to score a movie to great success.
One would imagine that after 20 years of writing fiction, that characters would just come naturally. The ideas of the life I have in mind for a character would bubble to the surface. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.It is very easy, amazingly, to write characters that break the mold. Characters that want to defy the status quo always stand out and their decisions to situations are simple in my world. Characters who need to stay within the laws of society, whether good ideas or bad ideas are the ones that have most recently attracted me. The character who finds that a bad decision is going to have the best outcome brings an acrid taste to their mouth but they make that decision anyway because life is about making that choice and knowing that in the end, everything else is irrelevant. Making choices moves life. It makes the character human, real, stronger.
It's always the growth of the writer that surprises me. I hope my characters help to make me a better person.