Good morning, everyone! 😀 Happy Hump Day to all – and only two days to the fabulous Friday. Today, the writer tips go out from the laptop and into the big bad world. LOL Well, in a manner of speaking. I know you’re comfy in that chair. 😀
About a week ago, the fabulous Trish Marie Dawson put up a post on her blog about a really vital part of being an author that is often forgotten – reading books! With all the other million-and-one things we have to do on a daily basis, it often gets pushed to one side. But it is so important that we don’t just read, but read EVERYTHING. Even if it’s that rushed few pages in the bathroom, or a quick read on the train to work, we need to keep ourselves – and our muses – fresh. You can read more of her brilliant post here. 🙂
But what’s the other important part of writing that often gets forgotten? LIVING IT. That’s right, I mean leaving the laptop altogether, and heading out into the Great Outdoors. Well, if you character is mainly inside, I guess it would be the Great…Indoors? Either way, it’s a necessity. How often do you read a book (providing you’re following the good advice above 😉 ) and realise that a situation or character doesn’t sound believable? Now, I’m not suggesting that thriller writers go out and commit a crime, or that romance authors throw themselves at a kilted man. (Although if you’re single, and a sexy kilted man walks by, I say go for it, writer or not. LOL )
But try to think about what your character would really feel, what they would experience. If your book is set in another country, can you pull off how that country’s culture is? The best way to get this right of course, is to either live in that country, or at least visit it. But don’t fear, you don’t need to book a flight to the middle of Romania right now, there is another way. Research, glorious research. The internet is always a good start, as it holds a valuable wealth of information. Learn all you can about a country. Not just the national costume and how many gold mines it has, but the little things. Is it primarily a religious country? How will this affect your character? Are they happy to go along with this, or do they rally against it? How does this shape them? The second part of this research can come from actual experiences though, even if you don’t go there. Try to find out if any of your friends or family have visited that country, or if they know anyone who has. Perhaps they even know a native of that country! Try to learn all you can from a person who has actually been there.
This same research can go for anything, especially landscapes. If you’re setting your book in a very real-and-here place, then you need to get the geography right. You can do some guesswork, but it takes away from your story when someone has been there, and they know it’s incorrect. Take my current WIP, Daughters Of Brigitania. (Don’t groan, there’s only one mention this time. 😛 ) It’s set in a place called Stanwick, near Darlington in the UK. It’s only twenty minutes drive from where I live, so I’m pretty lucky that I can visit it when I need to. But going to see the ruins of the Iron Age fortifications really gives you a – frankly, breath-taking – idea of just how enormous they were. The hills to one side let me know just what my characters would have seen every morning when they woke up, and being out in desolate country-side shows me just how isolated they would have been two-thousand years ago.
What about if your character is someone very different how your own personality? If you have to write about a crazed killer, (And I’m hoping you’re not a crazed killer here. If you are, thanks for reading my blog, and I live really, really far away from you. Like, really far away. LOL) then how do you manage to portray them? Sometimes, it helps to be a bit of an amateur psychologist. What are the worst things that they’ve done? Why did they do them? It’s no good simply saying, “Because they’re the bad guy”, or slapping some childhood trauma on it without understanding them. You need to build up a picture of them, just as you would for characters you understand much better. Think about what would make you do it. Yes, lovely, docile, sweet you. Your character, when they were born, were just like everyone else. (I suppose at this point, I should make a note of saying sometimes villains in books, depending on the book-iverse, are born as such. But it’s few and far between when this can be carried off, and it makes for a less believable character. Think of ‘The Omen’, with little Damien. He’s possibly the most evil character possible, and yet he’s a sweet, innocent little boy to start with.) So providing your character is just like everyone else, what warped them into who they are now? How did it build up? Do internal research, searching for the emotions that would drive you to change this way.
So I hope today’s writer tip inspires you to go and see more of the Great Outdoors – or the Great Inner You! And don’t forget to check out Trish Marie Dawson’s post either, it’s definitely another brilliant tip. 😉