Many people have been asking me what Deep Characterization is. I know what it is to me, but I wanted to share some of Janet Lee Carey’s thoughts on her Deep Characterization practice, which she’ll unpack even more at the Full-Bodied Novel retreat in July. Janet has just returned from a meditation retreat in Hawaii.
Katherine: Welcome back, you lucky girl! How are you doing?
Janet: Today I woke up groggy.
» Read more about: An Interview with Janet Lee Carey on Deep Characterization »
“Attached to the wall below me was a ladder. It must have been for building maintenance people to do whatever it is they do. I was both crazy-happy and terrified to see it, but I knew there was nowhere to go but down. I pulled Toby as close as I could. I had to crouch to grab the ladder. Keep breathing Toby, I won’t drop you. One foot down — easy — there’s the rung,
» Read more about: The Writer as Actor: …aaannnd ACTION »
Deep Characterization Exercise #1 Being Two Places at Once
The purple mass looked for a moment like a plump of organ pipes, then like a stack of rolls of cloth set up on end, then like a forest of gigantic umbrellas blown inside out. It was in faint motion. Suddenly his eyes mastered the object. The purple stuff was vegetation: more precisely, it was vegetables, vegetables about twice the height of English elms, but apparently soft and flimsy.
» Read more about: The Writer as Actor: On Location »
The expression “to lose yourself” in the part or in the performance, which has so often been used by great artists in the theater, has always confused me. I find it much more stimulating to say that I want “to find myself” in the part. —Uta Hagen, Respect for Acting
To lose yourself in a story is to become utterly unselfconscious. This can be just as true of reading a story as of writing one.
» Read more about: The Writer as Actor: Losing and Finding »
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
I was ten when my librarian grandmother pulled from her suitcase a book called A Wrinkle in Time. It had a funny cover with silhouettes floating in circles. I’d seen it at school and it looked too science-fictiony for me.
» Read more about: Remembering Madeleine »
The taut ground of soothsayer
Who broods in caverns for a glimpse of light.
How have I lost the glinting stone
I kept so long in my fist?
I have thrown down despair
And taken Struggle
And now it prowls round me as I sleep.
The eyes of Struggle
Are amber and do not blink,
The eyes of Seer in the dark
Who pleads for just one breath of day.
» Read more about: Today I must retravel »
My mom has always been all about stories. When I was little, she read and read to me: Winnie the Pooh, Ramona the Pest, the Book House books (which, heartbreakingly, were lost in a move.) She was, and is a teacher, and she made sure I became a reader.
But there was another gift she gave: she showed me that stories come from ordinary people–and that it is our birthright to create them.
» Read more about: Mom’s Gift »
Sometimes it’s the little things…
Writing antagonists can be almost too much fun. Of course, we don’t want to make the ALL bad. We need to show them as balanced human beings. But when you first introduce an unpleasant character, how do you show he’s unpleasant?
I thought we’d take a little stroll through The Summer of No Regrets, so you could meet a favorite nasty character of mine,
» Read more about: That Character You Love to Hate »
“I have never told you.” Five words that can deepen your characters, add page-turning plot elements, and shed light on motivation.
When I talk to my characters (and yes, I do this frequently–it’s a relationship that must be maintained), I’m gratified when they talk back. And they will, if you know what to ask them.
- Go to a quiet place where you can concentrate.
» Read more about: I have never told you »
Frantic. That’s how I used to feel all the time. Like there was no room to breathe. Anyone who’s known me for years will tell you that balance was a struggle for me. Sometimes it still is. I’ve searched hard for equilibrium, and I’m still a work in progress, but I do feel a lot more peaceful these days.
One thing that has helped me is the work of Michael Hyatt,
» Read more about: Frantic »